[Marxism] "white privilege" vs "white supremacy" - can someone please explain?

Steffie Brooks steffie.brooks at gmail.com
Thu Nov 1 18:39:18 MDT 2007

I would also be interested in hearing from others on this.

In my experience in multiracial organizations and milieus, "white
privilege" is indeed mostly referened by white anti-racist radicals,
as spencer notes.

Also, in my experience, the "white privilege" construct is mostly used
as a way of disciplining wihte people who disagree (for good or bad
reasons, politically) with leaders of color or with white anti-racist
activists who argue that taking the lead from people of color is the
main job of white activists. Thus, I am far from friendly to the white
privilege argument in practical application.

Further, the notion of "white privilege" is often applied to what I
think are basic democratic rights for everyone. The right not to be
beaten by cops, to be able to hail a cab, not to be imprisoned
unfairly, etc.

Therefore, the notion of "white privilege" replaces the notion of
"double oppression," which I actually think is more useful because it
places the emphasis on eliminating racism rather than in holding
individual white people accountable for the relative "privilege" they
derive, supposedly, from the double oppression of people of color.

White supremacy is a more institutional concept, that this country --
its economy, history, political system -- was and is still based on a
system of racial oppression. This I agree with totally.

I've recently been participating in a study group on Du Bois's
classic, Black Reconstruction in America, and also rereading Eric
Foner's Reconstruction: The Unfinished Revolution. I'm sure many
people here have also read these fine books. But I recommend them to
anyone who hasn't because it isn't possible to understand American
politics without a historical understanding of White Supremacy, how it
arose, and how it wasn't defeated.

Steffie Brooks

On 11/1/07, spencer <spencerpdx at yahoo.com> wrote:

> among the younger radical crowd, i commonly see that radical POC groupings
> almost always refer to "white supremacy", while white radicals almost always
> refer to "white privilege."

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