Those of you who are inclined to dismiss the notion of “white privilege” as an indicator of systemic inequality, not to mention a source of perpetual consternation for left-leaning college students and MSNBC’s core audience, will be disappointed to learn that Science has intervened to disabuse you of your denialism.
According to Yale Law School Professor Ian Ayers, the verdict is in and the “research shows” that white people are often awarded undue benefits and deference from service providers and authority figures alike. What research? Well, primarily two working papers produced by Australian economists who studied Brisbane bus drivers. They determined that Australian whites were vastly more likely to get a free ride out of their bus driver than were Australian minorities.
“Discriminatory gifts are more likely than discriminatory denials,” Ayers concluded based on the research. Thus, “white privilege” was found as a result of this Australian study, as opposed to anti-minority bias or discrimination.
“My kids, who are white, have never been turned down when I asked if they could use a bathroom designated for ‘employees only,’” Ayers bravely confessed. “After reading the Australian bus study, I wonder whether the same is true for minority families.”
Hmm.. Let’s just assume that the answer is a blanket “no,” and self-flagellate over it.
But all these conclusions about Americans are being drawn from Australia data, you say. Surely, there are some cultural distinctions that make comparisons between the republic down under and the United States imperfect. Of course there are, and Ayers goes on to address those concerns.
“For example, a recent study of 22 law firms by Arin N. Reeves, a lawyer and sociologist, found that partners were less critical of a junior lawyer’s draft memo if they were told the lawyer was white than if they were told the lawyer was black,” Ayers noted.
So, attorneys are not especially socially conscious. That comports neatly with a Labor Department study that indicates the biggest gender gap in terms of compensation is in the legal profession where women make just 57 percent of what men make. Of course, pay gap studies are invariably complicated by issue individual factors like age, education, and personal lifestyle choices, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying some moral superiority here, Republicans. Attorneys overwhelmingly donate to Democratic candidates and causes, so you’ve earned that sense of authority over your liberal counterparts.
Having failed to establish that “White Privilege” even exists, Ayers closes with a set of asinine ruminations on the nature of unearned license to which whites are disproportionately privy:
What does white privilege mean today? In part, it means to live in the world while being given the benefit of the doubt. Have you ever been able to return a sweater without a receipt? Has an employee ever let you into a store after closing time? Did a car dealership take a little extra off the sticker price when you asked? When’s the last time you received service with a smile?
So, if you are African-American and have ever successfully haggled down the price of a car or been fortunate enough to have a pleasant server, you have defied the odds. In fact, what this law professor (notably, not a research analyst concerned with falsifiability) has established are a set of conditions that can neither be proven nor disproven in order to support his preconceived conclusion that unconscious bias is both prevalent and insidious.
The unconvincing nature of this argument suggests that Ayers has never really encountered anyone who strongly disagrees with his prejudiced conclusions about the nature of racial bias in America. Some would say that this kind of intellectual sequestration is perhaps a tad more destructive to the fabric of society than being able to get your money back for that sweater without the receipt.