It was not so long ago that I first heard the phrase: “check your privilege”. One or two years maybe. My first tought was: “the hell are you talking about?” The phrase in itself was so idiotic that I had to look into it.
So my first thoughts were, that it is a reminder like:
- if you fill your tax return, don’t forget to check your privilege (or you will have to pay more)
- if you shop at our place, don’t forget to check your privilege (or you will miss out on the discounts)
- if you leave home, don’t forget to check your privilege (or if you leave home without it, you will have to stand in the slow lane)
So how do I check my privilege? Is there a form with checkboxes? Is it a form that I have to submit? Will there be a test? Or is there a card that I should keep on all times? Anyway, it sounded like a dumb ad slogan for a public service announcement. But it turned out to be something more stupid.
At that time it only meant, that you have no right to say anything, if you are white and a male because those who are in power are mostly white and male. In the name of free speach you have to shut up, because there exists a cultural preconception that a white male is more trustworthy than any other creature on Earth. And if you happen to say something that is not in line with what we have to say, you are opressing our free speach! And by being positively discriminated, you are automatically opressing others, so you can be nothing else but a bad person.
Frankly speaking, I was quite shell shocked seeing the videos of the zealot like people shouting and crying, crazed by the hype of anger and hatred, while others looked around in contempt raising their nose so high that it was almos on top of their head, with a smug expression on their face. Like they were the chosen ones, privy to some great secret, they felt proudness in fully accepting their twited logic.
I reacted as in my view any sane person would, thinking that this is only something isolated. But it turned out that I was wrong. It was a budding thing all over the U.S., sprouting mostly in the universities. It was coming from the least expected place, as I always thought that the places of higher education were the place of progress, protected from ideological bias and narrow mindednes.
And it just kept growing and spreading all around the world, a slightly different meaning of the phraze “check your privilege” branching out, demanding for remorse because of sins that the past leaders have comitted.
I was shocked not because they stood up for a reasoning, that could be easily dismantled by little effort, but because they turned it into a narrow minded ideology that could not be reasoned with.
White male privilege, as positive prejudice? In a society lead by white males? (What is the sould effect of facepalm? Please insert it here.) Humans are social animals. And every society will organize themselves around something common and will positively favore those who hold more resemblance to those who represent the majority. And it is not exlusive to white male led organisations or groups. And it can be observed in small and big scale too. I thought it was common sense. And if the composition is changing to something more diverse, then the cultural bias will gradually change with it. It is a natural progress, that you can not supress or forcefully advance. I don’t say that you have to be inactive, but if you forcefully set up an internal opposition it will only lead to a break in unity. There will be always those, who are against the change, but if you want to step up against them, keep in mind that they still are and will be a part of the same commune. Because you should be fighting for acceptence and aknowledgement not leading a hostile takeover.
Remorse over history? The biggest joke of all. I mean why stop at the last ages of slavery? Lets go further back. What about the warring tribes in Africa, that sold those they have conquered as slaves? (But of course after the colonization the joke was on them, so they should be free of blame, right?) Or furhter back, when the Romans ruled over most of the known world forcing those who lost into servitude? How far do we go back? If you think justice is something real and not just a naive childish idea, then lets get on with the eye for an eye rules and let the sons bear the fathers’ sin. After that go ahead and be a good example and start with yourself, becasue every human alive have an ancestor somewhere, that have comitted some kind of sin.
If you want to complain about history, then go to a school and do it for that are teaching it. Because no matter what country you live in, that is the subject used for patriotic brainwashing propaganda with the white-washed facts offering the feel-good narrative about the glorious foundation and past. It should not be about feeling good or bad, but be a subject in school where you learn to understand how the world works in a bigger scale and what are the mistakes that you should not repeat. Failing to do so is what hinders progress.
The frightening thing is not that how these people seem to miss the point, but that they bought into an ideology that is self defeating in the long term. And while they keep chanting their mantra of “check your privilege” to channel all their anger and feel righteous about it, they fail to see that the mentality of ‘keep in line or you are the enemy’ is how damaging. Because there are real problems lying around and their intent may be good, but fighting for equality does not mean pulling down others or stepping on them.
So I would not scream that you are wrong and I am right. I just wish to inform you, that as of my best understanding that is not the right way. And I implore you to “check your ideology”.