Over at the Great Orange Satan, commenter eodell lays it out quite clearly, for those who will listen:
Lemme whitesplain something to you, fellow white men: no one buys your bullshit.
That’s because your bullshit runs like this: For historically- and presently-oppressed black people to be treated decently, they must carefully avoid doing anything that could be remotely twisted into behaving like a white racist, even if you’re squinting and looking at it from five hundred meters away in a thick fog. Because that would be racist, and therefore hypocritical, and if that’s the case, they deserve to continue to be oppressed.
Here’s the thing you thick-headed [expletive]s totally fail to get: NO ONE DESERVES TO BE OPPRESSED, PERIOD. You can talk all you want about how it’s okay for black people to be mistreated if— but get this, there is no “if”. It’s not okay, ever. That’s why we call it mistreatment. Your error is to think that it’s ever justified, and your active misdeed is to constantly search for a justification. Black people, collectively, are not guilty of anything. In fact, a basic principle of civil society is that we reject the notion of collective guilt. Some individual black people, like individual white people, have done bad things, and in those cases, may deserve judicial punishments. But even those people don’t deserve mistreatment from some random white guy on the street. And black people in general don’t owe anyone anything as a prerequisite for being treated decently. No one does.
That last part is the rub: Way too many people in our society think being treated decently can/should be conditional. In real life, no one’s going to be treated decently all the time, and individual people of whatever race occasionally do things that merit being mistreated (after due process, of course), but that should be the baseline expectation and the foundation from which all our contact with other people should begin.
Only that’s not the way it happens, and way too many people are shirking their responsibility in this regard because they don’t recognize their own privilege.
Complaining about white privilege is not the same as assigning collective guilt to white people. White privilege is a pervasive feature of our society and our legal system. It’s hard to see if you’re white (and you’re not looking or actively trying not to look), but it is real, it is powerfully destructive, and if global warming had the kind of statistical support that evidence of white privilege has, Bill O’Reilly would be haranguing FOX News viewers to install solar panels.
And here’s the subtle point that you folks either can’t or won’t grasp. White privilege is especially the responsibility of white people to fix, not because we’re all racist schlubs like you are, but because white privilege itself means that we’re the ones who have the power to change it. Black people don’t have that power, again because of white privilege, and not because they aren’t sufficiently careful in the way they phrase their complaints about being mistreated. It’s our problem and our responsibility as white people to fix not because whites are collectively guilty, but because it is the responsibility of ALL PEOPLE to fight for decent treatment for ALL PEOPLE. It just happens that, because of our [expletive] ancestors and a helping handful of historical accident, we white people are the ones who can do something about it. When the finger on the trigger is white, it’s pointless to ask a black guy to lower the gun.
I realize the people who most need to hear this will be least likely to listen to and believe it, but what the hell. A guy can try.