I was in a less-than pleasant argument in a chat room with a couple of obviously, sheltered white people loaded with tired-ass explanations on who black people are and why they just don’t like them. One of the arguments mentioned was that they both felt that black people think that America owes them, and that they are entitled to be treated special for nothing. Immediately, a red flag rose and my white translator was activated. What I heard was:
“Black people love to complain about every little thing like equal opportunities and fair human treatment after all they’ve been through in this nation. Come on! All the bad stuff like that slavery happened in the past I don’t want to acknowledge! I wish they would get over it! They are free now! They got their gottdamn civil rights! Enough, already!”
The argument didn’t go well. It was like watching an atom bomb exploding in slow motion. I left to escape the blast, but then I thought of two things I never mentioned in the chat, but should of despite that it would just dissipate in the radiation of whiteness. I thought about the differences between the feelings of entitlement between blacks and whites.
For as long as I know, I’ve never heard black people ask for any “special” treatment. I never heard any black person say they want something for nothing. I only remember reparation arguments and how the black community should be paid back for slavery and other forms of oppression. To some it was quid pro quo. To others it was a wish too complicated and too late. In the end Black Americans have mostly asked and fought for basic human rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Nothing more, nothing less.
This makes me conclude that any movement for those rights is seen as uppity black people who should go back to their proper place beneath the foot of white supremacy. Black people should be thankful for the shit they have more so now than say – 50 years ago. The ones who complain are just whining and crying for nothing.
Of course, the follow-up is that the naysayers had to work to get where they are. Their parents didn’t have much and they worked their asses off to survive. They didn’t ask for any special handout. They worked for theirs. Again, the assumption is that black people are basically lazy who want shit handed to them on a silver platter.
Then, I heard about something known as white entitlement. From what I’ve seen, those who suffer from it are mostly whites who adopt racial stereotypes, statistics to support their stereotypical views, see racial groups as less-than-human monoliths, hate affirmative action, and feel their shortcomings and failures are the fault of the world, or more precisely, people of color (POC).
During the argument, I felt white entitlement slap me across the face through the monitor. They felt entitled to be right and feel scared of black people. And those who argue should just shut up and deal with it.
Most whites don’t even know their own since of entitlement. They believe that everyone deserves their fair share. What they don’t know is that racial oppression is still common and that nonwhites do not get the same amount of treatments or the same level of respect that whites get.
Whites who are treated positively, with respect and with many privileges afford to them because of their physical features will learn to expect this kind of treatment all the time. They will construct a worldview where theirs is seen as “normal”. They will even feel they deserve certain treatments and positions not because of their skin, but because they are valuable and more qualified.
If they are shortchanged, then resentment surfaces. Some will feel ostracized. Some will resort to blame others, especially people of color for attaining what they feel should be theirs based on their false sense of merit, never on whiteness. Yet, whiteness is still the subject of arguments as to why there aren’t any institutions for whites or why individual whites did not get accepted in certain institutions, even those mostly white, and passed up for the assumption that less qualified POC filled their spots.
The racial assumption is always that POC are not as qualified as whites for top positions are become members in institutions such as college. The core of the argument is always affirmative action, even though it largely favors white women. Nevertheless, POC are suspected of given special treatment, never seen as people who earned their spots but as undeserving people who were just given a hand-out, and that (always presumed) hard-working whites are now marginalized. And instead of looking somewhere else, they demand changes in their favor, despite the fact they live in a society where almost everything is in their favor.
Everyone, at some point, feels a sense of entitlement, but white entitlement is especially unique. It is racist in its actions, but is hardly ever considered, least of all by whites. It is a hidden privilege that makes itself as fair and liberal beliefs while exposing preferential treatment based on skin color alone. This post alone may make me appear arrogant because it doesn’t confirm to social norms. It may not be seen as a post by someone who questions the norms that refuse to grant dignity and respect to people based on race. That is how crafty this privilege is.