Mismatched Code Words: “White” and “Privilege”

By Evelyn Patricia Terry

I often listen to the Moth on Friday nights and even attended their recent program at Turner Hall, so storytelling is one of my interests. Maybe I can endure the Ex Fabula Community Conversation Series: Whiteness Community Conversation Series: Whiteness and Privilege (see below for details) fellows speaking on ”white” and “privilege” even though it portends emotional and psychotic discomfort for me as a black American. For me, “white” and “privilege” are code words for “If you are black, get back!” I accept that counter-productive people, of all races, ethnic groups and religions, exist through all kinds of “isms.” My preference would be to attend a program that concentrates on positive outcomes for race relations instead of continually feeding counterproductive words and actions that historically have too much traction and energy already.

I am attending because my friend called about this Ex Fabula event and just maybe the organization is sincerely attempting a solution. Although I absolutely know that “white” and “privilege” are combined to perpetuate and ingrain superiority myths that are designed to extract energy from black descendants of Africa and undermine our self-actualization.

I read the following article in search for who in the world came up with the term “white privilege.” I read someplace else that it originated during Jim Crow. Maybe it increased in popularity through this article.

Keep in mind that white people have been beaten up and put upon by other white people since the beginning of time. Currently as an example, WI Gov. Scott Walker opposes personal values that many white people hold dear. He destroyed unions and institutions that white people cared about and were employed through. Where is their “white privilege”?

In emotional agreement, I read Tal Fortgang’s below response to the above article. He articulated so many parts of my argument more personally than I can know about. The historical events he cites that shaped his life are what I am speaking about that have happened and keep happening to white people — perpetrated by other people cheating for power, money or whatever the cheaters are cheating to gain. The following is a link to Fortgang’s article:


There is only privilege when there is privilege. Privilege being assigned to a race is manipulative, obnoxious and ridiculous. The plethora of “self-help” material, it seems from their content, is written predominantly for white men, because they need help. Where is their white privilege? Like other abused women, white women are displayed abundantly in the sex trade through magazines and on the internet, even though they are often said to be placed on pedestals. White women reach glass ceilings, are paid less, with attempts to discourage them from many disciplines, such as gaming, science, technology, chefs, certain sports and other fields. Unfavorable decisions continue to be made about their bodies the same as other women. They are socialized to be “sorry,” speak less or are called “cry babies.” Where is their white privilege?

Feeling superior to others is a terrorist act

From my point of view, those who admit that they have “white privilege” are committing terrorist acts. As a black person, my interpretation of their actions is that they desire to feel superior to black people. Plus, the persons/person they garnered the privilege from is also cooperating in committing a terrorist act to feel superior and are definitely untrustworthy.

It seems this program should be limited to “white people only.” But, I envision more humans working around this divisive term as we do all other denigrating “isms.”

Here is the information that I saw about Ex Fabula that inspired me to write this.

Community Conversation Series: Whiteness Community Conversation Series: Whiteness and Privilege

November 24, 2015, 7:00pm-8:30pm.
Hosted @ Workshop Architects 201 E. Pittsburgh #301 (go upstairs/elevator to 3rd floor)

Join us to hear Ex Fabula Fellows share true, personal stories and then share your own experiences as part of a small group dialogue with Zeidler Center facilitators. The topic: dismantling racism by exploring and interrogating the ideas of whiteness and privilege.  All are welcome to attend.

Free, but advance registration required.

Which dialogue(s) in our bi-monthly Community Conversations Series will you be attending?  

  • November 24, 7–8:30pm “Whiteness & Privilege” Hosted @ Workshop Architects (201 E. Pittsburgh #301)

  • January 26, 7–8:30pm ”The Welcoming Church: A Listening Session on Race in our Faith Communities”

  • March 8, 7–8:30pm Topic TBA — Suggest topics @ info@zeidlercenter.org!!

I am sending you great energy to help produce a great program!

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Last edited by Tyler Schuster.   Page last modified on November 10, 2015

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