Privilege should be earned

No matter what ethnicity you are, success doesn’t just fall into your lap

I am writing in response to Tuesday’s column by Chelsey Perkins, “There’s no ignoring history and privilege.” Besides the humor of providing little reasoning for following a certain presidential candidate, aside from his ambiguous claim for change, I would like to provide an alternative option to a misguided view of race and, more specifically, “white privilege.”

I agree that there are many eople in our country who face oppression that others can’t even imagine. This is true and has been true from our country’s birth. I agree things can be done to ease, hinder or ultimately stop such pain.

But privilege is not something to be ashamed of, by any means, and not all whites are privileged. In the same respect, we must consider that not all the privileged are white. By stating that “white people must be allies to those most affected, no matter their color of skin, with an understanding of ways in which privilege has shaped their own lives,” Perkins has magically and instantaneously given millions of Americans a privilege that many of them will never see. I am not saying that by calling white people to arms Perkins has helped the impoverished, but that she “systematically” categorized all whites as being privileged and endowed them with the task of helping all other ethnicities “unfortunate enough” to have been born a race other than Caucasian.

Perkins has let her sheltered upbringing sway how she views other races, and in her attempt to “help” them, she has actually alienated them for being different than she is. Rather counterproductive, I would say.

Remember that the privilege, which many have “reaped,” as she said, had to have been sown at some point, as well. No matter what ethnicity you are, success doesn’t just fall into your lap – and if it does, most of the time people have a tendency to lose it overnight. Those who work hard – and truly work hard, not simply try and then stop when the slightest thing goes wrong – usually see the fruits of their labor, either for themselves or their offspring. Yes, racist people still exist in our nation who make life hard for others, but not all are white, and there are other doors to be opened that are not blocked by bigotry.

Wealth and privilege that has been earned should, by no means, be a burden on a person’s conscience. Privilege is a good thing to have, otherwise, why would anyone want or strive for it? It is what you do with this power that can take on some moral attribute.

Things can be done to ease the burden of the underprivileged. Altruism and philanthropy are wonderful things, when rid of the pity that likes to tag along with them. Don’t fall into believing that one should feel guilty for the good things in their life. Instead, remember the good in sharing your wealth.

Matthew Shoff is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]