Many thoughts and reflections have contributed to the discussion of Ferguson. Everyone wants to opine about Officer Darren Wilson not being indicted in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.
Whether we desire it or not, race has injected itself as front-and-center of the issue, regardless of what the facts may say.
Because coverage of the incident has run abnormally high due to the outcome, we have seen a barrage of emotions poured out via social media, living room discussions, cable news networks, radio and opinion editorials.
One person in particular wanted to make certain that white people must think a certain way towards the Ferguson case. This person is Sally Kohn, a liberal contributor to CNN.
In an op-ed featured in The Washington Post, Kohn invokes the assertion that “white privilege” is birthed within Caucasians. She writes:
"Benefiting from white privilege is automatic. Defending white privilege is a choice.
Privilege is like oxygen: You don’t realize it’s there until it’s gone. As white folks, we can’t know what it’s like to go through life without racial privilege because we literally haven’t. You may have heard stories about black friends being monitored in department stores or seen the research that black names on resumes get half as many job interviews as white names on the same resumes. Maybe you know that a black man or boy is killed every 28 hours in America by police or vigilantes. Maybe you’ve read the studies on implicit “shooter bias” — how we’re all more likely to pull a simulated trigger on unarmed black men than unarmed white men — and maybe you know that even the most egalitarian Americans harbor unconscious negative attitudes about black people. The studies and the stories are overwhelming. Just this week, police shot and killed a black 12-year-old for holding a BB gun.
She goes on to explain that responsibility is not the same thing as culpability:
Being a constructive part of America’s necessary discussion on race and racial bias means acknowledging how bias and privilege may shape your own life even if you don’t want it to. Responsibility isn’t the same as culpability. It is not your personal fault that Michael Brown was shot and killed or that we have deep and structural racial bias in America. But that bias is nonetheless a reality, and so you do have a responsibility as to whether you are part of the problem or part of the solution. Just like you’re mistaken if you don’t think white is a race, you’re mistaken if you think you can remain neutral.
It's asinine to suggest that white people being vocal about their concerns of the riots and violence occurring in Ferguson is correlated to them being beneficiaries of “white privilege.”
There are many whites, as well as many blacks, who are urging people to look at the facts, not their emotions when it comes to the case. For so long, there has been media sensationalism surrounding the story that has heightened unnecessary racial divisions.
One could easily believe they've been teleported in a time machine back into the 1950s or 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement.
Maybe white people are tired of being called “racists” every time they urge people to be factual instead of jumping to conclusions?
Do the people in Ferguson have the right to protest because they feel minorities are wrongfully oppressed by whites enrolled in law enforcement? Sure. They are entitled to that perception.
Are white people entitled to defend themselves if accusations against them carry no merit? Sure. They are entitled to that as well.
Whites, as well as blacks, have simply said that we should be outraged anytime someone is killed, whether they be black or white.
This notion of “white privilege” is automatic is simply a fallacy.
Categorizing Americans as “white” or “black” and basing social policies on those categories, dividing the nation and turning people against one another, is part of the problem. Individuals are responsible for their actions, regardless of their skin color.
No amount of social engineering, wealth redistribution, or government manipulation will prevent tragedies from occurring; on the contrary, the greatest tragedies in human history were created by the government itself. What the government can do is stop reinforcing this bias through its policies, and stop exacerbating the problem by fostering anger and mutual animosity.
Simply put: White privilege is a phrase used to elicit an emotional response from people who look for emotions, and is not relevant to every particular case. It is prejudicial on its face, and used to discredit the opinions of an entire group of people, whether or not the points they raise are valid.