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Privilege (Online Discussion)

January 19, 2012

Are all whites born into privilege?  Are all men born into privilege? Are all heterosexuals born into privilege?  Beyond answering these questions, lets talk about how the avoidance of discussions of race are very much about avoiding conversations and acknowledgement of privilege


  1. Olivia Newhouse permalink

    Overall in life, I believe white, heterosexual, males are automatically privileged in most aspects of their life. Even though our society believes that race doesn’t matter anymore, the color of someone’s skin does affect if they get hired or how they get treated. Some people no longer are racist and will hire someone primarily on there credentials but, some people still have the idea that race is biological and the white race is superior to any other because it is proven “biologically.” Racism is also apparent in our own racial stereotypes. I personally know people that stereotype African Americans and believe they’re less intelligent then Caucasian Americans so they shouldn’t be accepted into certain institutes of higher education. I do believe men have an upper hand on woman, especially in the work place. If a man and a woman applied for the same position and had the same credentials, I believe the man would get the job hands down primarily because he is a man which would make him a “better” employee. Also, heterosexuals are the norm in our society. If a man is walking down the street holding hands with another man, people stare because homosexuals aren’t what we’re used to, so it automatically makes it “wrong.” I think people avoid talking about these three subjects’ because when they are discussed people realize that our society hasn’t changed as much as people believe. In our society being white and heterosexual remains the norm and anything that varies from that is automatically “wrong.” People don’t like to talk about race and privilege because it is obvious there are still signs of inequality everywhere you look. Avoiding these conversations aren’t helping our society grow and develop into a more equal unit, they’re actually making us remain stagnant and forever believing we are an equal society when we still have a lot of room for progress.

    • Alex Clark permalink

      I definitely agree with your statement that, “Even though our society believes that race doesn’t matter anymore, the color of someone’s skin does affect if they get hired or how they get treated”. This is very true in America today, and I hope that we can move past this idea of race being integrated in every aspect of our lives today.

    • Julia Balaban permalink

      I also agree with your statement. Yes, our society has changed dramatically from the past but they stereotypes that people do have today especially in the work place have not changed. As you said, “I do believe men have an upper hand on woman, especially in the work place. If a man and a woman applied for the same position and had the same credentials, I believe the man would get the job hands down primarily because he is a man which would make him a “better” employee.” That is very valid and tends to be the case among numerous jobs. These trends need to change and the sooner the better.

    • Gretchen Worley permalink

      I agree that as much as we want to pretend racism doesn’t exist, we can’t deny that it surrounds us everyday. People are judged based on the color of their skin whether we like it or not. In addition, I agree that men have an upper hand in the workplace over women. Unfortunately, today our society still stereotypes men as being stronger leaders than women. Also, it is sad that heterosexuals receive so much more respect than homosexuals. Lastly, I agree that ignoring these realities of life is not helping our society, instead it is making it weaker.

  2. Alex Clark permalink

    In America today, I would say that even if people try as hard as they can to not have racial tendencies; their mind is built to place people into certain stereotypes and negative ideals. I would say that yes most whites are born into privelage, due to the mere fact that they are legaly caucasion. Since America decided to base its founding principles on race, being legaly classified as a certain race would have a huge impact of your life, either for the better or for the worse. The reason why most people try not to talk about race is because it’s very awkward. Most individuals would prefer to not bring up race because its not a plesent thing to discuss with others. I would hope that this characteristic changes so that we can move onto fixing the race problem.

    • DeShaun Mizner permalink

      Thats the problem with this society. They make talking about race “awkward”. Race has become our truth, so were suppose to lie to ourselves and never converse about this societal issue? Just because its hard to talk about, doesn’t mean we can ignore. Two wrongs don’t make a right, or so i was always told. I guess we should stop focusing on race, and start focusing more on how to discuss it to the point where people can be open minded, and civil. It almost seems like race isn’t even the “problem”, but the lack of communication between differences overrides everything. We all have our own opinions, i just hope we can all eventually have our own opinion filters.

    • Kaylie DeWitte permalink

      I agree with you when you say you want to fix the race problem because I too believe it’s something that needs to be put to an end, but it may be easier said than done. We’ve tried for so many years to step away from racism and leave it in the past, but not everyone cooperates and follows what others want to do. There’s always the few people that are going to disagree and go by their own beliefs. As much as we want to say that racism has digressed, it’s still here and hasn’t gone anywhere. It’s hard to say what would fix racism because no matter what some people will just not change their beliefs.

    • Aaron Verhei permalink

      I agree with you when you talk about it is something we are born into. I grew up in the country and went to a small high school that was mainly populated by white families. Some of the families i saw taught there kids their believes and raised them that they were superior to everyone and it really reflected by the way they acted towards the few other cultures we had in our school. People believing that they are better than everyone based on how they were born is a huge problem and i feel as well it is something that we need to get changed. I suggest that a way of changing that is to try and educate families as a whole and get parents to stop passing down those traditions to there kids.

  3. Brittany Dyess permalink

    Yes!All whites are born having white priviledge based on their phenotype, there eye color, hair color, socioeconomic status and more. this fact will never change.For example, Even as the president of u.s.a being a black man, he still goes through racial obstacles not a ONE white president had to go through.But hes president, why does it matter right?. People asking for his birth certificate, the topic of how much percentage hes african vs. how much white..It never stops.

    Are all men born into priviledge?Yes! Men will always want to be seen as the dominant one, more powerful, smarter, make better judgements, and better jobs etc..Which is why woman and men are always at competition with eachother conciously and unconciously. Men always want to be in charge.An example i always hear is how woman whofor example are the ceo of a company, alot of the men in office under her position dont take her serious because they use the excuse of “your a girl”meaning the respect level isnt there and the saying “you cant send a girl to do a mans work.”meaning a woman cannot get the same amount of work done, nor the accurate results of doing a task because she is a WOMAN.

    And although some people choose not to talk about race , for whichever their reasons may be, it is the same thing as not acknowledging white priviledge or privledge in general.Even if people dont talk about race, one can see the differences,one can feel it when in certtain places with different racial groups,going all the way down to who one chooses to socialize with and have relationships with(business or personal).At SOME point and time, EVERYONE is involved with a case where either they felt cheated or something wasnt fair, or there was competition…which brings in PRIVILEDGE. Avoiding discussions and the reality of race and priviledge will get you no where but left behind.To move forward one must be able to find the problem, face it, and somehow change their ways of dealing with serious issues like these.Stepping out of your comfort zone=growth.

    • Racharlle (Landa) Mendoza permalink

      First of all, I definitely don’t agree with what you were saying about whites being born, today more privileged.. and it wont ever change. You said that Obama goes through racial obstacles and not ONE white president had to go through any? That’s not true. If you search the right thing through youtube, or GOOGLE… you can find those “racial obstacles”. It may be harder to locate than Obama obviously.. but they still exist. I use to hear my high school classmates make fun of Bush because he was white. But I do agree, that it will never stop for Obama and it is ten times worst than a white president. Regarding gender, I again don’t agree with men today being more privileged. And your comment “men always want to be in charge”.. not all the time! Some men don’t want to be in charge of going grocery shopping, changing a diaper or being in charge of doing the HARD work (rather doing the easy work and then getting the credit). But, I do agree with the example you gave about the CEO man, and the woman with a lower position. The discrimination of woman not being able to do something. Even being at the gym… a guy said to me “I bet you cant lift that” well, HA! I did it! I disagreed with you but also agreed with you… but no surprise there. Everyone is different and everyone has their own opinions. But I will say I really really really LOVED this comment you made and definitely agree with you! 🙂

      “At SOME point and time, EVERYONE is involved with a case where either they felt cheated or something wasnt fair, or there was competition…which brings in PRIVILEDGE. Avoiding discussions and the reality of race and priviledge will get you no where but left behind.To move forward one must be able to find the problem, face it, and somehow change their ways of dealing with serious issues like these.Stepping out of your comfort zone=growth.”

      • Here would be a good point to begin to think about the differences between prejudice and racism (we talk about this on Monday). Think about this with your discussion of President Obama and Bush and how race operates in very different ways given history, given larger narrative. This goes to where we ended today: how and in what ways are President Bush and President Obama seen as “representative.” I looked on google and the types of images you see for these two men are distinct in their meaning, in their dehumanization, and in their larger history. Rather than establish binaries, how might we reflect on race operates in relationship to leadership with the dominant imagination?

  4. Reed Clarridge permalink

    The culture in the U.S. is dominated by the Christian, white, heterosexual male. One need only take a look at the composition of the U.S. Congress to see this. Yes, yes, and yes- All the aforesaid categories are born into inherent privilege, or at least potential privilege, as any group you can be a part of will be stereotyped and you, the individual, will be judged by your inclusion in the group. However, I believe the most significant determining factor of privilege is socioeconomic status, not race, sex, or orientation. It’s just a matter of what the culture has defined as power. Whites do have more privilege growing up in the norm than other skin colors, but they had a LOT more privilege 70 years ago than they do, now. We’ve experienced a paradigm shift on social power, but the status quo may not have changed nearly as much as our perception of it.
    Racism does exist in the culture, instead of being overt, it’s systemic and institutional. Thanks to racism being considered a poor social habit, the overt racist is a dying breed. The new racist, contributing to the ignorance around the very idea, is the guy who says racism is a thing of the past, denies any social privilege they may have experienced, and uses these reasons to justify opposition to social programs aimed at reducing disparities. I think it’s quite easy to talk about race frankly to most people, but if someone like this shows up in a conversation, it is unlikely you will change their mind and very likely the next half hour will bear an atmosphere of awkwardness, frustration, and anger. The chance of this occurrence is a deterrent to the discussion of privilege, as well as the fear of one minor glib remark offending someone and branding you a racist.

  5. Racharlle (Landa) Mendoza permalink

    I think all white, straight males USE to be born into privilege during the segregation era. I feel, that any gay man use to be less privileged, and if they were “colored” – they were even LESS privileged than a white gay man. Today, I feel as if being “privileged” is more based on ones socioeconomic status and merit than it is race, gender, or sexual orientation. This doesn’t mean that these factors are completely ignored in regards to who is more or less privileged because… these factors do, indeed come into play at times.

    Race… the topic we have been discussing everyday in class. In some situations whites may be more privileged than “colored” people. For example, all of the presidents before Obama were white, and because those white presidents were white, they were more privileged. Therefore, it was easier for them to be elected as president. BUT, sometimes “colored people” may be viewed as “more privileged” than whites. Take scholarships for example, even though David, you mentioned in class that only .4% scholarships are based on race the numbers being thrown around were usually higher numbers. I heard someone say “80%, there is a lot out there!” This is not the first time I have heard comments like this. I’ve been hearing this since High School.. when some of the white students would say “wow, I cant even APPLY for any scholarships anymore because I’m white!” I think a majority of society believes white people are more privileged because of our past history, but I disagree. I’m not saying that today, everyone is equal (even though we apparently are).. it’s just everyone has their own opinions! What one may think is privileged the other might not.

    Gender… I think that most men think woman are privileged and most woman think men are more privileged. I think most men think this because woman tend to have more.. PRIVILEGES just because of their gender. Here is a silly example that I see all the time. While in line at the club, girls can cut in front of the line AND most of the time they can get in with NO charge. Or, at a frat house… any girl can go in but not every guy just because, they’re guys! On the other hand, I think woman think men are more privileged because of the past history. Men were usually more dominant and it was weird and unusual if woman worked a mans job.

    Regarding sexual orientation, this is probably one of the biggest controversial issues. It is very much clear (to me at least) that straight people are more privileged than any gays.. just because it is such a debate, and opinions on this subject vary. For example, even trying to get gay marriage legalized in certain states is hard enough because people in society look at them as less privileged.

    I agree, If we avoid discussing race then we are also avoiding conversation and acknowledgement of privilege because there are a lot of different aspects of race… privilege being one of them.

  6. DeShaun Mizner permalink

    I guess in order to answer these questions, we have to define what “privilege” is in the first place. To me, privilege is something I had to earn growing up as a kid. I had to earn the privilege to go out with friends or even watch t.v. So are whites born with special privileges? I think that they might have an overpowering way of life beyond other races due to our history as a nation. But i also think that the privileges they have are just as equally everybody else’s. Even if whites have a higher rate of jobs, or a higher rate of education compared to people of color, those people of color can take action. They can speak out and be heard, and they have the right to any and all “privileges”
    Men on the other hand have also been insinuated to have certain rights or advantages among the population, once again due to the way history has started. Men are currently born with just as much rights and advantages of women, but because people judge men based on their past, there are people who would argue that men get things easier.
    Now to say heterosexuals were born with privileges is just non-sense. Almost an idea that sprung from the gay rights community to get attention in my opinion. Its no ones business on who you marry or why you marry, and because people don’t like to obey others privacy, we have the issue of straights getting off easier than gays. Also this can be translated back into history, where the gay population was not around as much. And thus our society has yet to adjust to the changes in todays atmosphere. Whether its an immature college student who is strictly against man on man or an obnoxious media medium that says things for ratings and money. Its simply an issue that has rose strictly for attention.
    I believe the reason we avoid talking about ANY certain privileges is because if we changed that then that would lead to yet another societal change that the world today could not handle without bringing entire new issues to the table. If we talked about letting gay marriage be legal in all states, how long before the issue of animal marriage or underage drinking becomes legal. We have just evolved so quickly has a moving society, but our brains still link up with the history of our nation and that leads us back to square one. How we were taught as kids is how we think, and until we can all listen to all points of view and stop being homophobic, racist cowards then we will finally progress mentally as a society.

    • Given tax benefits for married couples (there are other examples), how can you say heterosexuals aren’t born with privilege. Yes, it is cashed in later in life, but the availability of marriage and financial benefits would be another example. Also, given potential of violence, what does it us the heterosexual couples can hold hands or kiss in public without even thinking about potential harm, whereas the same cannot be said for GLBT communities

    • Reed Clarridge permalink

      I think privilege is the circumstance in which the “rate of jobs,” “rate of education,” are not stacked against you, or rather favor another group. For the most part, Heterosexual, white males don’t have to fight to break a stereotype of themselves growing up, because they are the norm. If one of them is lazy, most attribute that trait to the individual and not the group, where society stereotypes the attribute to the group for other cases.
      I think homosexuals are not born into the same privilege as heterosexuals because “people don’t like to obey others privacy.” Privacy is not clearly defined, and only through the recent Lawrence v Texas case was it ruled that anti-sodomy laws are illegal through the US constitution. Regardless of the case outcome, 29 states do not recognize or allow same-sex marriage. Barring any prejudice homosexuals may grow up with within the aforementioned states, heterosexuals are born privileged with the right to marriage, while homosexuals are not.

    • Maddie Steiner permalink

      I agree with your argument that being white does not automatically make you born into privilege. I think that people work hard for what they earn, and these opportunities are available for anyone who’s willing to work for them. The notion of privileges associated with different races and genders isn’t talked about a lot in our society because its a difficult topic. Each race, gender, and sexual orientation has stereotypes and expectations associated with them. We are all able to overcome these stereotypes but it isn’t easy, which I think is a leading cause of the reason why our society is doesn’t talk a lot about race and privilege.

  7. Kaylie DeWitte permalink

    From what the past has provided us for the future, most white, heterosexual men are born into privilege. They are the dominant species and always have been. Ever since the beginning there has been a title connected to a white, heterosexual man giving them the privilege to work in which ever job they want and the power to be superior. Some people accept that and others are still wishing that wasn’t the case. Our society has stepped up a little bit and is slowly starting to accept women as higher working authorities and accepting a black president. Not everything will happen over night in changing race though. People are so hesitant when talking about race because even saying the slightest comment about race may sometimes come off as a racist, derogatory remark and label them as a racist. Race isn’t something that we can avoid. It’s in our lives everyday and all we can do with it is just deal with it. It’d be nice if it wasn’t an issue anymore, but that’s not the case. Not speaking of race and voicing your opinion will just allow those that are highly privileged to feel that much more superior and feel like they have that much more power. People won’t change without being confronted because most people are blind to what they may be doing and how they can be hurting someone else without even realizing it. If race isn’t discussed in classrooms or just with other people than it will always be an issue and won’t be easy to discuss. Race is like a burning wild fire. It’s grown over so many years and has spread to a great extent because people think it will eventually burn off. Being afraid to bring up race and confront and talk about it is just feeding the flame.

  8. Karlie Hall permalink

    I do believe that whites, males, and heterosexuals are somewhat born into privilege, in the sense to that that is what is commonly accepted and considered normal in certain terms. However this was considered to be more greatly accepted compared to others roughly around 70 plus years ago, and now these traits do not play that great of a factor to what is socially accepted, in that people are adjusting and accepting things out of the ordinary. I believe that being born into privilege now considers an economic standpoint, and where one and their family sits in terms of class. Today it doesn’t matter whether you are white, male, or heterosexual, anyone can be successful in that the concept of being a “racists” is not accepted, so anyone has the ability to succeed. Otherwise if jobs or other opportunities were only given to white heterosexual men the industry or profession would be seen as judgmental and racists.
    Talking and discussing race is a difficult topic to discuss still. Although we are becoming more open and accepting of different backgrounds and privileges, people still do not want to confront certain topics or talk about racial issues. Discussing certain things like privileges and advantages that come from race and and other racial abilities can become offensive and discriminating, therefore conversations are usually avoided and discouraged. But how do you talk about history 70 years ago without bringing it up? Or how do you discover individuality, or what makes people different from each other without debating racial traits? Race should be able to be discussed in educational terms and explained to everyone on why it makes us unique. Theres a great difference in talking about “race”, and being “racists”.

  9. Victoria Kolytiris permalink

    A huge amount of white people are considerably born with privilege but that is not to say that all are. There are many states and cities around the country that have underprivileged whites. With the question of men being more privileged I go back and forth because I cannot decide. It is a lot harder for white males to get into college but also white males will make more in a job than a black male doing the same job. Men also will make more than woman no matter what. Heterosexuals have a privilege over homosexuals because in every state they are legally able to get married, whereas homosexuals have only limited states where they are allowed to. Also, heterosexuals are more socially acceptable in our society and homosexuality is still in question in many peoples mind and uncomfortable for certain people. The reason people do not like to talk about racism and privilege is because it is still very apparent in our society. People do not want to recognize that society has not changed and it is easy to ignore and look the other way. Most people think of the “norm” as a white male making more money than his wife. There is still a lot of inequality in this country it is whether we choose to ignore it or not.

    • To say that whites have privilege is not to say there aren’t poor white people, because there are poor whites. Of course, privilege is not absolute and it is also dynamic. We will talk about examples of white privilege that cuts across class lines

    • Olivia Newhouse permalink

      Do you believe that if we do recognize that there hasn’t been a lot of change of inequality in our society it will help solve the problem? Or do you think people need to recognize that people don’t know how to discuss race with out feeling racist so our society remains stagnant? I agree that certain white males aren’t privileged when there born but as a whole I definitely feel white heterosexual males have an upper hand in life the majority of the time.

  10. How does race (or gender and sexuality) intersect to impact class outcomes and opportunities? As we move forward think about this and how to talk about them together

  11. Josh Tyler permalink

    Are all whites born in to privilege? I think this question is very open ended, if you were to not think about it the first answer would be yes. But if you were to think about all the situations where whites were a minority then would the answer still be yes, most likely not. If you were to think about all the demographics of America and where white people are more dominant in a certain area then other people then yes they are more privileges because they are not the minority. I believe it does truly matter where you are in the nation for it to be determined if you have more privileges then someone of a different race. For example, the ratio of blacks to white in mid-west to southern states is probably way higher than that of people on the west coast. So what about those white people? Are they privileged still because they are the minority? I don’t think they are. So my reasoning is that NO, not all white people are born into privileges just because of their skin color, a lot of it is due to their locations and their surroundings.

    Are men born in to privilege? My answer to this is simple, yes. Men are always looked up to and often held above women just because their difference in sex. The male is often perceived as the Alpha and is always looked at as the person in charge. Unlike my argument of demographic of whites being born in to privilege, men regardless of their location are always looked at as the more dominant person in the circumstances that are set forth.

    Are all heterosexuals born in to privilege? Again another simple answer for this is yes. I only say this because even in today’s society for someone to be gay or lesbian is not a bad thing but is still looked down upon. Is it right? No, people are allowed to be whoever they want and I can support whatever they choose to be. However, society has painted the image of it being a bad thing that people are gay or lesbian because it’s not the social norm. I personally don’t agree with it and thinks it’s a waste of an argument. Unfortunately this has allowed heterosexuals to born in to privilege just because of the image that society has painted because of it.

    The avoidance of talking about race directly reflects the acknowledgement of privilege. People choose not to talk about the factors of race because they know what the negative effects of the past have been and how it also has given different races the upper hand. Unfortunately, today racism still takes place and it allows for privileges based off skin color to be present. It’s sad to see but it’s what society has created and accepts as OK. People do know that if there was a discussion based off race things would be different for them in their situation, but based off the vast majority of people who choose not to say anything allows for racism to continue and for certain races to have more privileges.

    • Jennifer Shoff permalink

      I definitely agree that people are not born into privilege simply because they are white. I think that some people forget that whites are not the majority all across the world; believe it or not we are the minority in some places. Location and surroundings definitely have to do with privileges around the world. I also agree that the avoidance of talking about race allows racism to still occur. Although I even find it difficult to discuss race and privilege it is very important to talk about it openly if people want to see change.

    • Josh: How would you define minority? Is it just about numbers or is it about power, who is normalized? How might this impact your discussion? Also, how does talking about race, gender, and sexuality together impact your discussion? How do reflecting on black women or GLBT of color complicate discussion here

      • Josh Tyler permalink


        I simply define a minority here in this topic as the sheer number of people and the ratios of them. this impacts my discussion because if you were to think about sheer numbers and how they affect situations you probably can think of a situation where the minority is more dominant. For example, look at the White House, our president is African American, but the majority of the House/Senate is White, does this mean that the people of the house are more powerful than the president? No. There are plenty of situations where the Minority is more powerful, But for this situation I just choose sheer numbers to express the minorities. Also, by combining Race, Gender, and Sexuality together in to my discussion , allows me to be focus on the certain factors that cause racism to occur. Lets face the reality, racism occurs, not only to African Americans of the passed, but to women, men, homosexual or heterosexual. It occurs, and in this discussion i chose to bundle the 3 topics together to get more then 1 point across at a time

      • Josh – you write: “There are plenty of situations where the Minority is more powerful” – what situations; what examples? Is that power institutionalized and normalized? Does it transcend individuals?

    • Olivia Newhouse permalink

      When you say that not all white people are born into privilege, do you feel the same when it relates to who will get hired for a certain position. Even though in the south when they might be the minority don’t you feel that they would have a better chance of getting hired then a black person for a specific job? I don’t think privilege is about whoever is the majority I think it is more about our history and who has always thought to be the superior race.

      • In addition, how are we defining minority and majority — how does power fit into the discussion beyond numbers?

  12. Maddie Steiner permalink

    I think that many people believe that we live in a world that has overcome racism, because of the changes made after the Civil Rights Movement. Its hard to know that racism is still prevalent, when it is rarely talked about in school or at home. Throughout history, certain privileges have been associated with being white. And while I believe this to be true, I also think that each race and gender has privileges and hardships. Every person has to work toward overcoming the stereotypes they were born into. Certain careers, personalitys, interests, friendships, relationships, etc are expected of us just by the way we look. But just because someone is white, doesn’t mean that they are privileged, just like how if someone is black doesn’t mean that they are disadvantaged. I think that automatically assuming that someone is privileged because they are white is not right.
    The issues surrounding race are hard to discuss because they are so tied into emotions. Our society has taken to completely ignoring these issues instead of talking about them because people don’t have to be thought of as racist, yet the social expectations of each gender and race and still fully supported in our society. Until we can discuss these issues, they will stay hidden.

  13. Jennifer Shoff permalink

    Saying that all white people are born into privilege seems to be a very naive statement to me. Fifty years ago this may have been true but I certainly don’t agree with it now. It is safe to say that people are born into privilege but I would not say it is solely because you’re white. I know enough low class white people to know that just because you’re white doesn’t necessarily mean you have more opportunities than people of color. There are several factors that are involved in determining who is privileged and who is not. I do agree, however, that gender and sexual orientation are both aspects that influence privilege. It is clear that gender is still an issue by the salary difference between male and females, men are still getting paid significantly more money than females in the work place. Being a woman, I don’t necessarily feel I have been cut short by any means because I’m a woman but that doesn’t mean I will never have to deal with gender inequality. I definitely understand how difficult it is to believe that there are such big gaps between what people think men are capable of than what women are capable of. Women can be portrayed in such horrible lights, looked down upon and not taken seriously. I believe it’s not that men are born into more privilege but that it takes women a lot longer to earn respect from certain people. When it comes to sexual orientation I certainly believe heterosexuals are immensely more privileged than homosexuals. The way I look at it is that sexual orientation is the big controversy of our time, just as race was when our parents were our age. I think because parts of our society are so hesitant towards accepting homosexuals, and some may never fully accept them, it is going to be a hard battle for them to earn the rights that they deserve. I find race to be a very touchy subject for some people to talk about and I think it will be a very long time before it can be something that is talked about openly.

    • To say that whites have privilege is not to say there aren’t poor white people, because there are poor whites. Of course, privilege is not absolute and it is also dynamic. We will talk about examples of white privilege that cuts across class lines. You also make an important point about this being a conversation specific to the U.S., but given coloniazation, and the ways in which racial ideologies have been disseminated, it is also important to think globally

      Here are a few things to consider: (1) White men with felony convictions are more likely to get a job than black men with no record when have same qualifications; (2) whites are 50 percent more likely to receive phone call from perspective employer than those with “black sounding names”; (3) From Tim Wise: “Black and Latino workers are typically the first fired in an economic downturn, and remain twice as likely to be unemployed and 3-4 times as likely to be poor, in good times or bad; and white high school dropouts are twice as likely to find work as similarly uneducated African Americans.” (4) Black women with Master’s degrees make less money on average than white men with high school diplomas. (5) Also from Tim Wise: “Furthermore, according to Thomas Shapiro’s groundbreaking work on the racial wealth divide, whites in the bottom fifth of all white households (in terms of income) have, on average seven times the net worth of similar blacks. In large part this is due to a major advantage in home ownership and thus equity, due to passed down property from parents. Indeed, as Shapiro and his colleague Melvin Oliver have found (and chronicled in their book, Black Wealth/White Wealth), whites with incomes below $13,000 are more likely to own their own homes than blacks with incomes that are three times higher, largely due to these intergenerational transfers of wealth.” (6) As Matt Yglesias points out: “Someone accused of killing a white person in North Carolina is nearly three times as likely to get the death penalty than someone accused of killing a black person, according to a study released Thursday by two researchers who looked at death sentences over a 28-year period. People are generally aware of the fact that the criminal justice system sanctions African-American suspects and perpetrators disproportionately harshly. Less noted, but in some ways even more pernicious, is the way it affords lesser protection to African-American victims and potential victims. Randall Kennedy’s Race, Crime, and the Law explicates this neglected issue in an excellent way” (

      What all of this points to is how we need to think about privileges and advantages (not being privileged and advantaged) in an effort to see how race operates in fundamental ways.
      You may want to check out this post as it reflects on some of these issues –

  14. Justin Ramos permalink

    I will agree with some people that say not all whites experience some privilege because of class status, however, the reality is the vast majority of white people experience this “benefit of the doubt” that most people of color do not receive. Some of these privileges are, but not limited to, gazes of people in public, being able to walk in a store without suspicion, being able to be one’s self with out the fear of being judged. Prejudice also effects women, gays, and lesbians, as generally the public will judge some of these groups and even chastise them. by pretending there is nothing wrong, we are just avoiding the acknowledgement that a problem exists. it does not fix anything, it does not change the way people view each other, it merely puts us at ease so that we may feel comfortable. However, how comfortable can we feel if we don’t resolve the social issues that surround us? At the end of the day most of us see it, statistics show it, and those of us that go through it feel it; race, gender, sexuality it all matters. not talking about these issues that are social, institutional, and real is like having a leg cut off and just not think about it and avoid it to make yourself feel better, its not solving or fixing anything its just ignoring it, and eventually you will bleed out and die. so lets not avoid these questions, let us educate ourselves, hear testimonies, an do our best to understand, because its harder to understand than what most of us believe.

    • Kyla Chappell permalink

      I agree with your statement of whites getting the “benefit of the doubt”. I also liked your examples of privileges white people receive over blacks. I also thought you did a good job of describing how our society avoids talking about these problems and acknowledging they exist. And comparing it to the cut off leg was genius. It really put it into perspective what will happen if we all don’t step up and face these problems and fix them. Also, talking about us wanting to feel “comfortable” and how acknowledging these problems would take us out of our comfortable shell, is exactly true. But if we continue wanting to feel comfortable over attempting to fix these social issues, they will only get worse and the privileged will only keep receiving their benefits.

  15. Alexandra Wilson permalink

    Yes, people that are white are born into privilege in a sense of statistics. Whether its prison rates of who are doing more time in the system and how long the sentence is, blacks and Hispanics dominate the time served compared to whites. This shows that the criminal justice system is racist throughout the entire system whether in the courts or the police those are out on the streets convicting people to crimes. Also in the workplace like we discussed in class, if you are a white women you are more likely to be upfront compared to women of color who have tasks that are hidden to the customers eye. On the other hand with racism being such a present issue, some companies have taken drastic measures to ensure they have equal statistics. For example my dad works for Microsoft, while interviewing for any type of management position he has said those of color are more likely to receive the position regardless of their qualifications, solely because the company wants good reviews. Therefore no matter what your color is there are always advantages and disadvantages.
    As far as gender privileges I think that can go both ways as well. Depending on the role someone may assume rather it’s a nurse, CEO of a company, taking the kids to school or coaching a sport. Every single role as a stereotype added on to it of how we perceive life. How these stereotypes are engrained into culture is through media outlets. Rather it’s a textbook or a commercial there is always gender privileges that you may not even realize. People still to this day avoid addressing this issue. I grew up in a society where my mother was a housewife and took on those responsibilities and I never knew any different.
    Heterosexuals are defiantly at privilege overall country wide but there is differentiation depending on where you are from. For example if you are in a urban liberal city, people are more likely to accept and embrace gay rights compared to a rural country town. In history heterosexual rights were a very touchy, unspeakable subject and still are in some parts of the world. But those who have opened their mind to other viewpoints have tried their best to give those whom are heterosexual more rights and privileges.

  16. Aaron Verhei permalink

    When it comes to whites, heterosexuals, and males all around are they truly all privileged? In most cases i say they are but yet they don’t truly know it. There are some white families out there that looking at it from just the class and not race are worse off than anyone else in the United States and you can’t say the are privileged when they hardly have the bare minimums to survive. But when you look at it from the social point of view you start to notice that whites do have special privileges over African Americans. When you go to a court house and you see a white male and black male both in suits talking you would probably instantly think that the white male is the attorney and the black the defendant. People in the society do that everywhere. You can go anywhere and people instantly think that the African American are the ones who live on the streets and commit all the crimes while the Whites sit safe in there suburbia and don’t ever do anything wrong. The media helps this as well, when watching TV how many of the main characters in shows are black? You mainly see the majority of main characters to be white with a one or two African American actors mixed in there. The media and the society even though they claim that everyone is equal you see people by themselves making judgements about who is better and who is not. the same goes for males and females. Throughout history it has been shown that the males role is to go make the money and come home and relax, while the female was suppose to clean the house, cook the meals, take care of the kids, and basically do anything the man needed. Now in today’s world you see women doing jobs that they wouldn’t but yet still not getting the respect they deserve. People will take anything that is against the regular that they grew up with and say it is not right and try to put someone down all because they are just trying to make there life better. When it comes to fixing this everyone has taken the wrong approach to it. The way people try to fix it is by not talking about it. By doing that it only makes it worse because if you do not talk about the issue at hand it will just sit there and get worse as time goes on. To fix the problem of people feeling that people feel they are privileged base of how they act or how they look i feel we need to sit down and all talk about how everyone is equal and about how no one is privileged just because you were born differently. Than we may see some change in the way society treats each other.

  17. Julia Balaban permalink

    I do believe that yes, whites are born into a certain privilege than other races are. Coming from a woman’s point of view, I also believe that white, heterosexual males have an even bigger privilege because they always have been the main source of support throughout past decades. As I responded to another students post, it was said that if a man and a woman applied for a job, with the exact same credentials, chances are that the man would get a call back for the job. I think that today this is still the case in many situations. Not only does gender, age, and where you are from have to do with how you are perceived in society, your race has an even bigger impact on people whether they like to admit it or not. One of the examples I noticed that you used in class was the bar graph on marijuana users between Whites, Blacks, and Latinos compared to Whites, Blacks, and Latinos who got arrested for it. In the study, Whites were the highest users, then Backs and following with Latinos. While in the people getting arrested it went Blacks, Latinos and then whites. Even with that small example, it shows that whites tend to have the upper hand in many parts of society.

    • Kyla Chappell permalink

      I am happy to see you write that, “your race has an even bigger impact on people whether they like it or not”. I completely agree with this, I feel as though people hide behind the fact that they judge people based on their race. Most people would not be willing to admit that. The example you give about drug use vs arrest rate, focusing on the different races, clearly shows the privilege given to whites over other racial groups.

  18. Kyla Chappell permalink

    Yes, I believe whites, as well as heterosexual men are born into privilege and automatically receive treatment, that say, a black person, a woman, or a homosexual man or woman, would not. Talking about skin color, most would like to argue that equal rights have been placed on everyone, no matter their skin color. But still today, there are instances where a persons skin color has been a factor. I feel as though race has been thought to be obliterated by some, but these would be the people who are not directly affected by discrimination based on their physical attributes. The idea of men being born into privilege, I believe this is also true. For many years, men had many rights over women. I recognize this is in the past, but I do not think these ideas have been totally diminished. Aside from the many jokes there are about women needing to be in the kitchen and such, there are some that believe this to be the true place of women. Even though I do not agree with this, I still believe men have some privileges over women. The work force is one example strongly supported by this idea. Although there are some few jobs that are not suitable for a woman, and rather for a man, some may take this too far. I am no extremist on feminism, but I do believe most things any man can do a woman could do. So there is no reason any man should have privileges not offered to women. Moving onto the topic of heterosexuals, this is probably the one that most people would agree on that homosexual are far less privileged than heterosexuals. Still today there are some states that prohibit homosexual couples to get married. This clearly shows itself, that homosexuals are already less privileged, because any heterosexual couple can get married anytime, where homosexuals cannot. Conclusively, whites, men, and heterosexuals are indeed born into more privileges than other minority groups, women and homosexuals. I also feel like the privileged ones are the ones who will believe there is no privilege given. I feel as though privilege will always be granted to these certain individuals because of our society’s total view of who the majority groups are.

  19. Hailey Pusich permalink

    I think that all white, straight, males are born into privilege. African americans, gays, and women are all still working for their privilege to be equal even if it isn’t as bad as it was a long time ago. But there is an extent to which these white males are born into. Privilege also comes along with what you make of your life and the resources you have been born with. If a white male was born into a wealthy family that could provide him education and a good life he would be more privileged then a white male that was born into a poor family that couldn’t afford to go to college. Privilege is all about how you look at it and what the situation is. While yes whites, males, and heterosexuals have the upper hand in todays society that is not to say they are more privileged in every situation. Whites are born into privilege because they have never had to experience true racism and being discriminated against or at least the majority haven’t. Males are more privileged because they have a better chance of getting a job and they provide a bigger income causing the woman to rely on the man. Heterosexuals are more privileged because they do not have to fight for their right to get married and aren’t treated differently or discriminated against. By avoiding talking about race we are avoiding talking about those who are less privileged simply because of who they are. I think the reason we don’t talk about it is because it is uncomfortable to talk about something that isn’t right or fair to treat people a certain way yet some people do because of the way society has put these images of right and wrong into our heads. Whites and blacks, males and females, and heterosexuals and homosexuals should all have equal privileges and be given the same chances. Who a person is should not make them any less then someone else.

  20. Andrea Grade permalink

    I agree with the fact that most white, heterosexual males are born into privilege. There are very few cases where white males have had to overcome adversity in most aspects of their life. For example, some have mentioned how Obama has fought against racism in the White house. We hear things like “Obama is a Muslim” or “He’s not a US citizen” when really most of these ‘jabs’ at Obama are because of the color of his skin. I think most of society avoids speaking about race like they speak about a religion other than their own. It’s one of those conversations that make people ‘uncomfortable’ when really it’s a conversation that is sitting right in front of you. Because of the oppression of different races in the past, I think people often fear that the way they bring up race will be offensive. I think we need to look at talks about race as more of a way to satisfy a curiosity rather than create an argument.

  21. When examining these questions it is important to understand that there is always an exception to the rule. Not all white people are going to accomplish more than minority individuals. Not all men are going to be the “bread winners” of their households. Not all homosexual people are going to be looked down upon in favor for a heterosexual person or family. However, it is safe to say that in the majority of these cases, the answer to the question would be yes. Many people in today’s society attempt to explain away issues of race by saying that we live in a “post-racism society”, but that could not be further from the truth. The reality is that there have been significant strides in racism and how we as a society deal with it, but we just haven’t done enough to come anywhere close to eliminating racism all together. We, as a society, have simply cracked down on the public displays of racism and it has become a subject that is not talked about because it is out of people’s “comfort zones”. Instead we face much deeper forms of racism, such as institutional and unconventional, which can affect the people it discriminates against in ways that vary from housing foreclosures, to the inability to get a job. These discrepancies can be found at many levels and in many facets of life. If we are to truly attempt to eliminate race from our thought process there needs to be a drastic shift in the way we act and speak in our daily lives. And the only way to do that is to discuss, and realize exactly what needs to be changes. An example of something that we do in the United States that no other country does, is apply race to how we refer to where minorities come from. The idea of African-American and Latino-American is something that is unique to America and is something that is just plain silly. Why can’t we all consider ourselves Americans and leave it at that?

  22. Desirae Meza permalink

    I would say that not all whites are born into privilege. Not every white person is well off. Like any other race there are different types of status such as poor, middle class, and upper class. It just seems as if whites are born into privilege. As time has passed it seems that the racial conflict continues to be an issue that we still have to deal with. Whether we like to hear or it not minorities have to deal with being stereotyped. It is unfair that it is the way it is but not everyone can look passed the color of ones skin. I would say that men are born into privilege. As of today men seem to still overpower women in wages. It is unfair that females are still striving to earn the same equality as men.
    Heterosexuals are far more privileged than homosexuals. Homosexuals are looked down upon whether we deny it or not. They do not have the same opportunity of marriages as heterosexuals do. That shows that homosexuals are less “privileged” than others. It is sad to say that some states only approve of opposite sex marriage. If people are said to have equal rights then why prohibit anyone from what they please to do? Marriage is based on the whether the two partners are ready to be committed to one another and it is their choice. The law should not interfere on whether a couple chooses to be together. The bottom line is they are all human beings and they have the right to choose as they please.
    People choose not to talk about the differences of race for the fact of the matter that they do not want to confront the reality of inequality that is going on in the world. They are made to believe that we are equal and that we all have equal rights. We also feel as if we do talk about we are going to seem as if we are racist, but really it shows that we know equality is problem and we are scared to confront it. If we were to confront this situation of the “unprivileged” people it would cause the reality of facts to come out. I think that overall talking about race and the privileges that it brings causes controversy. People are not ready to hear the truth nor do they want to participate in being a part of it.

  23. Gretchen Worley permalink

    I do believe that whites, men and heterosexuals are all born into privilege to a certain extent. As much as we want to deny it, the color of ones skin still affects how one is perceived and treated in society. Growing up as a white woman, I have never experienced a situation where I have been put down for the color of my skin. In addition, I have never felt left out or have faced a problem landing a job. Instead, I have always been perceived as someone who will succeed in life. However, although the women’s movement has made a significant impact on how women are respected and viewed in our society, I still believe that men have more opportunities than women. For example, men are more likely to hold high positions of authority in a business or organization. In addition, according to statistics, men still make more money than women and are perceived as better leaders. Thus, men are born into a more privileged life solely because of their gender. In addition, being heterosexual comes with its many advantages and entitlements. For instance, one is never judged or questioned for their sexual orientation. In addition, one can show their affection without being looked down upon or harassed by others. Not to mention, one never has to hide their sexuality for fear of being put down. Overall, in our society today, being heterosexual is a much easier lifestyle to live.

  24. Meesha permalink

    I think it has been seen through out history that those who were white, male, and/or heterosexual were born into privilege because our society in one point in history. Instead of admitting that at some point, we (as a country) have allowed certain groups of people to be more privileged (by skin color, gender, or sexual orientation) but giving those who are considered to be underprivileged a more equal opportunity as a way to avoid bringing up the past.
    I think is very crucial when dealing with race. Through out history, people have come up with various excuses to support that treating people differently based on their race was acceptable. Instead of really talking about the issue of race, today’s society has claimed to make things more equal by not judging someone by their race when applying to jobs, houses, ect; or the fact that we currently have a black president. Although we have made progress with the issue of race, I think many people in our society are afraid to talk about race because they are afraid to deal with the feelings and emotions that is brings up (because it is seen as sensitive issue).

  25. Carolina Salazar permalink

    Personally, I think that white men that are heterosexual are automatically born in to privilege in our society. I mean, let’s face it, the color of one’s skin still affects people in different ways depending. As much as I’d like to say that race doesn’t matter anymore in our society, it’s still a factor as to how well we will get treated or perceived by others. Just to give an example, if a Hispanic person would to apply for a job and a white women would also apply for the same job with the same credentials, I believe that it is more likely for the white women to get that job just because she is white. I think it goes back to the idea that whites are just somehow superior compared to other minority group. As for being either male or female, I definitely believe that the male has the upper hand in our society because I know there are some people that think males can do the same job better than females. Also, let’s not forget that females do get paid less than males for doing the same job. So there is still that stereotype that says women can’t do as well as men in the same job setting. Also, being heterosexual is a much easier lifestyle to live just because being homosexual is just still looked down upon even today in our society. Lastly, the whole thing about avoiding the topic of race and who has more privilege is just ignorance. Some people just don’t notice the problem because it never happened to them.

  26. Amy Leonard permalink

    I think on some level of our society, those born with white skin are more privileged than those without. This is from generations of stereotypes about different races. There is a stigma attached to every race, and we need to realize that they are not true for every person of every race! Obviously stereotypes are there for a reason, but I don’t fit every stereotype of a white female, so there is no reason for me to think that every stereotype about a race, gender, or sexual orientation is true as well.
    I also think it is easy to make the argument that men are born into more privilege than women. It has been proven that in many cases a man will be paid a higher salary than a woman with the same degree(s), work experience, and competency. Men are seen as the powerful caretaker, women as the weak one who cannot support themselves. Women fought long and hard for equal rights, but still things are not equal in our world.
    As far as homosexuals verses heterosexuals, heterosexuals are definitely born into a easier circumstance than homosexuals based on what most people in our society view as a socially acceptable lifestyle. While there are many progressive people who do not view a homosexual lifestyle as wrong, there is still a large amount of people who do, and they are very outspoken about their opinions. People like members of the Westboro Baptist Church make their living preaching an anti-gay agenda. They see anyone who is not a member of their church as a sinner, someone damned to burn eternally in hell. From their perspective, even if a person claims they don’t agree with the gay lifestyle, they still allow it by not being a member of the church. People like this make living and being gay quite a challenge.
    The refusal to talk about race is completely also a refusal to talk about privileges granted to certain people over others. It makes sense, especially in polite, politically correct conversation. It is embarrassing to consider you might have an easier life than someone else simply because of your gender, skin color, or whom you are attracted to. Once we get passed the politically correct barrier, we can work towards talking about things as a society that may seem uncomfortable now, barriers will eventually break down, and we will work towards a more unified, equal world where we truly are “colorblind.” (In a good way).

  27. Hannah Zabel permalink

    Privilege is a word that comes with many connotations. It can be something you earn such as receiving a later curfew on the weekends for doing chores around the house or something you earn within your career as you become more successful. We know that privileges can be earned, but is it something that some people are just born with depending on their race, sexuality, etc? Because I am white am I born with privileges over other races? But because I am female am I born with less privileges than a male? The answer to these questions have been changing as society does. Today I believe that white heterosexual males are known to be born with the most privileges just as it was in past history. I believe that these privileges can change as they has from past history. I am a white female before I would not have the privilege to be able to work and be a successful women, but today my privileges have changed and I am able to do such a thing. I think it is important to see that society changes the privileges we are born with and that each of our privileges can change today white heterosexual males may be more privileged over others, but what will the future bring?

  28. Remember, when talking about privilege, we are talking an earned advantage. Being able to stay out late because of “good behavior” is earned and its not really advantage.

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