This week, we're thinking about White Privilege and Racial Injustice. Everybody knows that the US has a long and sorry history when it comes to racial injustice. It also has a long history of privileging the needs, concerns and narratives of white people over those of people of color. But how exactly are white privilege and racial injustice related? That’s our question for this week.
What is it
“White privilege” has become a buzzword in discussions about racial inequality and racial justice. The call to “check your privilege” appeals to those privileged to acknowledge the various ways they receive special treatment that others don’t. But when white people explicitly acknowledge their privilege, does this do anything to further racial equality? Is talking about “white privilege” just a way to assuage white liberal guilt? Instead of unequal privilege, should we be more focused on equal rights? What kind of theory of justice is required to improve black lives? John and Ken check their privilege with Naomi Zack from the University of Oregon, author of White Privilege and Black Rights: The Injustice of U.S. Police Racial Profiling and Homicide.
Isn’t white privilege just another term for racial injustice? Isn’t racial injustice just another term for white privilege? John and Ken open the show with these questions. Do the problems behind racial injustices in the United States, particularly behind blacks and whites, stem from white privilege or the violation of black rights? What is the real distinction between these two options, and what would it mean for a solution?
John and Ken are joined by Naomi Zack, professor of philosophy at the University of Oregon and author of White Privilege, Black Rights: The Injustice of US Police Racial Profiling and Homicide. Zack explains the some of the motivation behind her book, claiming that the police homicides of blacks are an example of the violation of black rights and not white privilege. She distinguishes privilege as a perk or advantage, which is different than not respecting the basic rights of people of color. Ken questions whether this distinction makes a practical difference in regard to solving these issues, and Zack insists that it does.
Callers join in the discussion with their questions. One caller brings up the privilege of certain populations being unaffected by drug prosecution in comparison to less-privileged groups. In reaction, Zack and our hosts discuss the practical needs of a society in which issues take time to resolve and more severe issues demand priority. The episode ends with a conversation about the status of modern society and whether we still live in a white supremacist country.
- Roving Philosophical Reporter (seek to 6:38): Shuka Kalantari speaks with two residents of Oakland, one white and one person of color, about racial injustices in their community.
- 60-Second Philosopher (Seek to 45:57): Ian Shoales speaks about his experience with his own white privilege and how it has come up in the current election.