Doc Bonn Confidential: I Dislike My White-man Privileges
Posted by Administrator
Those of us who are white and male in the U.S. are born with significantly more chips to play the poker game of life. Although our white, male status is a biological reality, the unearned benefits that our race and gender identity provides us are a social construction, that is—they are perks of a white patriarchal society. Given that white men generally dominate the halls of power and influence in the U.S., our unearned privileges are generally taken for granted and remain invisible to us.
As a white, male sociologist, however, I have been trained to recognize and to be aware of the fact that I receive certain unearned privileges. These “white-man privileges” range from the relatively insignificant, such as preferential access to taxis, to the profoundly significant, such as preferential access to social clubs, peer networks and unadvertised job openings. These various privileges accumulate and bear interest over a lifetime much like an annuity or compound interest on an investment.
The old adage that who you know is more important than what you know is not just a common cliché it is a powerful social reality. For example, the fact that the upper tier of Fortune 500 companies is dominated by white men is not an accident. Such men are mentored to the top by other white men. Sociologists call this process “homosocial reproduction.” Stated differently, birds of a feather flock together. This flocking of white men at country clubs and in barrooms and boardrooms virtually ensures that their dominance of corporate America is perpetuated from generation to generation.
It is important to emphasize that gender (male) and race (white) are not the only factors which determine quality of life in the U.S. Certainly, education, skill, attitude and effort do matter in determining one’s life chance opportunities. Using myself as an example, I am educated, somewhat talented, dedicated and reliable—all attributes that are valued in the U.S. labor market—in addition to the fact that I am a white man. So, to a certain extent, I influence my destiny through factors within my control such as effort and attitude. Yet, overwhelming empirical evidence such as salary statistics by race and by gender demonstrate that I have distinct advantages based solely on my biological makeup. This is not fair but it is an undeniable social reality.
As a sociologist and humanist, I find white patriarchy disturbing despite the fact that I often benefit from it. Call it white-man guilt. Perhaps, if I was oblivious to my unearned advantages and adopted an attitude of entitlement, then I could reduce my angst and not feel guilty when I receive special treatment. Fortunately, however, despite the discomfort it may cause me, I am able to see the patterns of inequality that exist along racial and gender lines and how I benefit from them. Moreover, if I fail to recognize it when I receive an unearned white-man bonus, even something as seemingly minor as special attention from a salesperson in a department store, my Asian-American girlfriend is happy to point it out to me. I love that about her. For only by recognizing inequality when it occurs, pointing it out, and then discussing it freely and openly, do we have a chance of bringing about meaningful social change and passing out the poker chips of life in a more equitable fashion.
Dr. Scott Bonn is Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Drew University and a media expert. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq” and is currently writing a book about the public’s fascination with serial killers. Follow him @DocBonn on Twitter.
- Black and Latino: Race to Incarcerate (docbonn.wordpress.com)
- Does evil exist? Yes, but only in the eye of the beholder. (docbonn.wordpress.com)
- Hunting the Beast: Dr. Scott Bonn Talks Serial Killers with Brent Hatley (imaginepublicity.com)
- True Crime Uncensored: Burl Barer and Dr. Scott Bonn Discuss MASS DECEPTION (imaginepublicity.com)
- Are you both intrigued and repelled by serial killers? You are not alone. Doc Bonn knows why. (docbonn.wordpress.com)
- What Do Purple Elephants and Serial Killers Have in Common? Doc Bonn and Strange Frequencies! (imaginepublicity.com)
About Administratormarketing.promotions.publicity ImaginePublicity
Posted on March 21, 2012, in Social Issues and tagged Advantages, criminologist, Gender equality, Homosocial reproduction, sociologist, White Patriarchy, White-, white-male domination, White-man privilege. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.