The Possessive Investment in Whiteness Essay

The Possessive Investment in Whiteness Chapter 1: Opinion

Although America’s ideals have radically changed over the decades, white privilege still runs rampant. As a general rule, in society, whites are still regarded as the most powerful and most successful. When the average U.S. citizen thinks of the “typical American man”, the image of a white, forty-something, financially well-off business executive may come to their mind; in other words, a man of high rank and superiority. It isn’t that they don’t believe in another race’s success, it’s the fact that most times, when another race gains power, whites find ways to patronize that power or shut it down. In the past, whites have been huge culprits behind discrimination and oppression, and that power alone keeps the success cycle going. Through every generation, equality has rapidly grown, but the fact that it wasn’t established as a basic human right in the first place shows the complete egotistical arrogance whites have shown and still, to a certain extent, show today. I believe that no man or woman should ever feel powerless or repressed under the control of another, no matter the race. Respect for another human being should never be a far away desire; rather, an unyielding expectation.

Emily Aitken
Cowell 80A
Section 22

Possessive Investment in Whiteness Chapter 1: Essay Question What main factors attribute to “white privilege”?
Emily Aitken
Cowell 80A Section 22 The Possessive Investment in Whiteness Chapter 1: Essay

In the words of Ampersand, “Privilege is driving a smooth road and not even knowing.” Although cultural and societal norms are ever-changing in today’s world, racism still remains an apparent issue. In George Lipsitz’s excerpt from The Possessive Investment in Whiteness, Lipsitz ascribes racism to the concept that whites have overriding benefits to other races, or “white privilege”. This “white privilege” is kept alive by the multitude of white oppressors in the past, the social stigma whites hold as being rich and powerful, and the individual instinct people carry about racism. Throughout history, whites have been responsible for a large number of attacks on other races, being verbal, social, or physical. Whites have been responsible for “attacks on Native Americans”, “denying the franchise to Asian Americans, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, and African Americans”, and “slavery and ‘Jim Crow’ segregation”, to name a few issues. After so much blatant injustice and discrimination, how can one not believe that whites attain a privilege over other races? Although in recent times white’s oppression of other races has been less distinct, racism still lives on in “the covert but no less systematic racism inscribed within U.S. social democracy”, and because of this, minorities have been unable to see beyond this tainted past. Another reason “white privilege” is thought to still be alive and well is the advantage whites hold in terms of image and reputation. For example, the studies Lipsitz mentions show that “minority applicants had a 60 percent greater chance of being denied than white applicants with the same credit-worthiness”, and that “loan officers more frequently used dividend income and underlying assets as criteria for judging black applicants than they did for whites”. These unfair benefits that whites receive compared to other minorities show that people are still not considered equally. Whether one is black, white, Mexican, or Asian should not be the determining factor in how one is judged.

Finally, the environment people are raised in has much to do with how they view racism. When a white person is brought up in an accepting family with liberal views on race, they are more likely to accept others and treat them with fairness and respect. On the contrary, if a white person is brought up on biased views, they are less likely to see others of a different race equally. Relating back to Steven Pinker’s “The Moral Instinct”, much of one’s own “moral instinct” is based on one’s society and what is deemed acceptable in said society. In conclusion, “white privilege” is not a complete idea of the past. Times have change, people have changed, but some ideals from the past have stayed with us. One thing that we, as people of every race, gender, sexual orientation, etc., can do to change this is continue on a path of acceptance, equality, and fairness. For one to see the light of justice, one must first take off the blinders of injustice.