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Sunday, January 26, 2014

White Male Privilege

My first attempt to write this post was abysmal so I decided to rewrite it.
The core concepts presented are the same as the original but without the multiple distractions that killed my ability to construct prose of sufficient quality the first time.

This post will still upset a lot of people. Any time something is presented that disrupts one's view of the world it will make one uncomfortable and, if successful, this post will disrupt the world view of some people.

Imagine, if you will, a party.
Everyone who is not invited wants to come to this party; the people at the party just see the party as the way of life.
There are two ways to get to the party: be specifically invited or win the invitation lottery.
Once you are in the party it is very hard to get kicked out of the party and, even if you do, there is a fast-track to getting re-invited because you know the people in the party already.

Now imagine the lottery system that goes into party invitations. Each time there is an open space in the party that is not filled by a direct invitation from someone in the party a lottery is held. The lottery works very much like the lotteries we see on TV. The person associated with the ball that comes up is extended an invitation to the party. There is also a rider on lottery winners that they can be kicked out of the party at any time if a number of people at the party choose to dislike them. The longer they are in the party the harder it is for them to get kicked out and the easier it is for them to get reinvited after being kicked out.

EVERYONE can enter the lottery. Entering the lottery has one simple criteria: you must exist. Some people, through a variety of options within society earn the right to enter the lottery more times but each entry has the same chance of winning as any other entry. No one is favored in entering the lottery.

This is a very simple analogy to the way that society works. The 1% are the ones already at the party and they have the ability to invite others and pass along their invitation to their families, etc. The rest of the population sees the life of ease in the party and strives to attain it, but there are only so many invitations to be passed around. On the surface EVERYONE can move toward winning this lottery. The rules say so and the procedures for entering agree.

No imagine that the lottery has three manufacturers of the balls for the lottery. The provide specifications for how each ball. Each manufacturer hits the specifications within the accepted tolerance for diameter and weight. Now imagine that one of the manufacturers consistently creates lottoballs that are at the heaviest end of the acceptable tolerance range and the other at the lightest end of the range. The third manufacturer always hits the middle exactly. This means that 33% of the population has a slight advantage over the other 66% and that 33% has a disadvantage compared to the other 66%. For the sake of simplicity the lottery commission decides to only use two of the manufacturers for the lottery and is not aware of the minute weight differences in the manufacturing process. Now imagine that each manufacturer has a variety of colors they can introduce to the mix to make the lottery a bit more interesting. Each color introduces a new weight variant for the two ball manufacturers on either end of the spectrum but the one in the middle can make them without a weight variance.

For the sake of clarity I will label the three manufacturers A, B and C. A makes the balls that are slightly heavier than average. B makes the balls that always hit the average weight for the specifications regardless of color. C makes the balls that are somewhat lighter. A and C both have variances within their process for the colors they use.

Our society is much like this lottery. Anyone CAN win the lottery and make it to the party but there are inherent defects in the system that stratify the chances of the people who enter. Statistically EVERYONE has the same chance but it is a series of defects in the system itself that edge some people ahead and push some behind. The system can be fixed.

Imagine now that it comes to the attention of the lottery commission that some of the balls have a weight variance and, thus, they investigate and find that they should have been using manufacturer B the entire time because they are the only one with no variances. They begin the slow rectification process of making every new entry into the system a ball from this manufacturer and correct the old entires as they are able. Correction is a slow process. It is MUCH easier to make new entries with the new balls. Each corrected entry makes it harder to locate the next entry needing correction.

This scenario is much like our society as well. Originally there was a stratification of workers and opportunities. The system was blatantly biased against anyone who was not male and of the predominant color; the system favored manufacturer C's plain balls and disadvantaged manufacturer A's colored balls the most. Over time, though, the system's favored category shrinks to be replaced with a more egalitarian, and mathematically equal system. Differential equations shows us that a contaminate will decrease in an inverse exponential curve. This means that the concentration will go down more slowly with each particle of contaminate that is removed. Eventually, it becomes nearly impossible to remove the remaining contaminate because it cannot be found among the overall volume of material.
As the balls are replaced with balls from manufacturer B it becomes harder and harder to find the ones that have a variance from the statistical average weight among the overall population of balls.

This metaphor creates a new question: how did the broken system go on for so long without anyone noticing that the balls were not equal in weight? If you map it to society you will find that societal pressures caused the number of entrants to be widely uneven: they were almost all, for a long time, white men. Anyone else COULD enter the lottery but their society pushed them not to. If they did they ended up with disadvantaged entries.

We've reached a point in time where the ball problem has been discovered and new entries are being generated that are equal. Some people still earn additional entries and some people do not.

My evidence for this is that the wage gap, while still existing, is eroding (see: for reference).
Additionally the number of people who are in the workforce and generating additional entries into the lottery (through hard work and opportunities to advance in their jobs) is leveling out to match the general population's composition. It's not there yet but it is happening. Read more here:

What this says is that white male privilege is a myth. Social forces created the a situation in which it was NOT a myth and perpetuated that for generations but the evidence show that it is no longer the case. The evidence shows that the advantages are eroding for that demographic and, therefore, the legacy status is turning into a myth. This is how it should be. Everyone should have an equal opportunity. Do we still have a lot of work to do? Absolutely. But the only privilege that truly remains is wealth. The people IN the party have the privilege. The people trying to get there are all just trying to survive. By observing that the lottery was once rigged, and still has defective entries floating around in it, WE have created a mechanism to help us fix the broken system. At the same time WE have created a perceived enemy amongst ourselves. WE have created a means to direct attention away from the actual problem. The people who are the actual problem must be finding solace in this and are happy to allow the illusion to spread, and even enhance it by their demographic makeup, because the longer we focus on "white male privilege" as the core of the problem the longer we ignore that the real problem is that the ultra rich simply don't want to share. They like their exclusive party. They only allow the lottery to exist because it sells us hope. Hope keeps us believing we can escape our situation and become like them when, in reality, the odds are simply not in our favor.

If you look at the last link it will show you a chart showing the distribution of CEOs in the country. They reflect the myth of the white male privilege.... but, more importantly, they ALL earn and sequester more money that the people who work for them.

If you question that the enemy is the top 1% and that they benefit by us squabbling among ourselves over a problem we are already shown to be fixing (with their help) then you need to watch this video:

Do we still have a long way to go? Absolutely.  Our progress is not done until ALL of the old balls in the system are gone.
While our work is ongoing the people are the party are laughing that their system still exists and they have been steering the ENTIRE economy to put more and more of the wealth into their pockets; leaving less for the rest of us to fight over.

Excessive wealth is the ONLY privilege that truly exists. The rest of any advantages or disadvantages are simply derivatives of it. White male privilege was a reality and it is what led to the variance among the super rich being so low; but, that privilege is being eroded (as it should be) leaving behind the true origin of wealth discrimination: the wealth owners themselves.

Here are a couple more links:

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