“White privilege theory,” expounded mostly by elite academics, nowhere shows its political bankruptcy & impotency more dramatically than at the outset of a new civil rights & Black power movement. It’s an upper-class form of guilt-baiting that has no place to go politically because it sees racism as rooted in psychology & not in the entire system of economic, social, & political relationships. It differs very little from those religious doctrines that see social transformation beginning & ending with personal redemption. It’s primary purpose is to make people feel bad about being white, as if it’s an original sin. And it’s a way for elites to dodge the issue of class & their own privileges.
The Black community is under serious assault. This is a time when they are rebuilding forms of mass resistance to defend their children from police violence & assert Black power. Every assistance to that mission must be rendered without hesitation. Meanwhile the “white privilege theory” crowd is pumping out one silly-assed article after another taunting whites for being unwittingly racist & not taking time to scrutinize their privilege. They function like snipers trying to weaken the movement–albeit with an insular smugness.
Of course racism is a problem; it’s true that many who support civil rights have a limited grasp of the problems. That was just as true of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. But movement-building transforms people & educates them profoundly while navel-gazing, guilt-baiting, & white privilege therapy lead to a political dead-end. Because fundamentally it’s an apolitical alternative to solidarity. Nay, not just an alternative but an outright opposition to solidarity.
This is a time to support Black power–the political method of people like Malcolm X who came to see the limits of castigating white people & understood the imperative to forge alliances in action with anti-racist whites. For those who want to understand what to do, read Malcolm, dump the “white privilege theory”.