How white privilege works

Leonard Pitts, Jr. often disappoints me. Not today. Shaking his head at yet another stupid remark on conservative media, he explains how white privilege works:

The inability — or, more aptly, the unwillingness — of Mr. [Bill] O’Reilly and others of his ilk to get this, to understand what privilege is and how it works, is an ongoing source of exasperation for your humble correspondent. The good news is, O’Reilly and his ilk can now educate themselves for the price of a couple mouse clicks.

With the first click, they should play video of Joseph Houseman, a 63-year-old white man who, back in May, stood with a rifle on a street in Kalamazoo. When police arrived, he refused to identify himself, grabbed his crotch, flipped them the bird and cursed. They talked him down in an encounter that lasted 40 minutes. Houseman was not arrested. The next day, he got his gun back.

With the second click, O’Reilly should play video of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy who, last month, was playing with a realistic-looking toy gun in a Cleveland park. When police arrived, an officer jumped out of the car and shot him at point-blank range. There was no talking him down. Indeed, the entire encounter, from arrival to mortal wounds, took about two seconds.

I can’t think of a more succinct definition of white privilege than “the instant assumptions people make about you — your worth, your honesty, your intelligence — based on color of skin.”

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