“White privilege is what allowed an Englishman to be “Lawrence of Arabia” and musician Cat Stevens to become an Islamic scholar. Trust me, there will never be a ‘Vijay of Arabia’.”
October 15, 2014
The Toronto Sun
A decision by Ontario’s largest teachers’ union, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (EFTO), to hold a workshop on “white privilege” at its annual convention, has got many white people’s knickers in a twist.
The debate spilled over on the opinion pages of this newspaper as well as on the Sun News Network, where I faced off against four white colleagues who argued there was no such thing as white privilege.
It was a raucous affair.
Being a member of a minority group in Canada and having experienced racism as well as the effects of white privilege, let me state emphatically the two are not necessarily the same.
Some of the leading anti-racists I know are white while some immigrants from Pakistan, Iran, the Arab world and China shamelessly practise anti-black racism.
The reaction of many whites is thus to deny such privilege exists, despite the evidence.
To be clear, white privilege also comes from white accomplishment. From Socrates to Thomas Paine, the Wright brothers to the Nobel Foundation, our contemporary civilization undoubtedly has a (white) European foundation.
So where is the evidence white privilege exists? Here is an example from south of the border.
Last month a white woman in Ohio filed a lawsuit against a sperm bank that mistakenly impregnated her with sperm from a black donor, when she had wanted a “blond hair, blue-eyed individual” to match her lesbian partner’s looks.
Three years after the girl’s birth, the couple is suing for having suffered “personal injuries, medical expense, pain, suffering, emotional distress and other issues, and will do so in the future …”
The white mother describes raising a black daughter with “fears, anxieties and uncertainty” about her child’s future in their all-white town
As black reporter Derrick Clifton of the web magazine Mic.com observed, “Dealing with blackness has become burdensome and inconvenient for these two white mothers — because the biracial baby completely upended their decades of enjoying the spoils of white privilege.”
White privilege manifests itself in many other ways, especially in our information driven age.
Here are two examples from the current war Islamism has declared on humanity.
- First, when ISIS beheaded a white journalist, James Foley, he became a household name the world over. However, when ISIS beheaded an Arab journalist, Raad al-Azzawi, last week, there was barely a murmur.
- Second, on Oct. 4, two jihadist terror groups released videos flaunting the beheadings of their hostages. The first was of the Nigerian barbarians of Boko Haram decapitating a black Nigerian pilot. The other was of ISIS beheading a taxi driver from the United Kingdom.
While we all were moved by the story of cab driver Alan Henning, who is white, few newspapers covered the story of the black pilot, not even mentioning his name.
White privilege is what allowed an Englishman to be “Lawrence of Arabia” and musician Cat Stevens to become an Islamic scholar.
Trust me, there will never be a “Vijay of Arabia”.
Personal note: Regarding my own background, my grandmother was French, I have an Italian aunt, my son-in-law is of Greek ancestry and a niece last month introduced the first Newfoundlander into our family.