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The Falsehood of White Privilege

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Lisa Poole

One of the Left’s favorite ways of attacking Whites in general and men in particular is to accuse them of benefiting from white privilege. Their only goal in doing so is the attainment of more power for themselves.


During the past few years, the concept of “white privilege” has taken hold of the Democratic Party and those on the Left. The idea is that all White people have enjoyed and still enjoy privileges and advantages by virtue of their being white, and this state of affairs leaves “people of color” at a structural disadvantage in almost all human endeavors—bringing up a family, getting into college, succeeding in work or business, buying a home and more. The concept of white privilege is used as a cudgel against the Left’s opponents, not to help Black people or others but rather to concentrate power in the hands of politicians, college administrators, woke corporate professionals, entertainers and the like. White privilege is a falsehood in more ways than one.

At the most basic level, the United States has such a mixed and diverse population that there is unfortunately no shortage of poor Whites, whether in Appalachia or in towns where the jobs moved out and fentanyl moved in. Additionally, there are many “people of color” who are wealthy or super-wealthy. Who has privilege—a millionaire Black businessman who grew up in a middle class family or a poor White man whose family has been barely getting by in coal country for generations? Beyond the fact that there are many Americans who do not fit into the patently false narrative of specifically white privilege, the concept itself is based on a falsehood antithetical to the “American Way.”

In the past, when America was a more religious country, one realized that his or her task in this world was to take whatever was given and make the most out of it in a lifetime. If one was born into wealth, then more was expected by society as well as by the person himself. This concept was expressed as noblesse oblige and for generations well-to-do Americans saw it as their obligation to use their positions and means to serve the country in the armed forces, charities, and/or government. Have you ever noticed that older hospitals tend to have religious names like St. Mary, Mount Sinai, or Lutheran General where I was born. Industrialist Andrew Carnegie used part of his wealth to build over two thousand libraries worldwide and Vannevar Bush left MIT to run the Army’s scientific war effort when his country needed his expertise. The president of Harvard joined him. It was expected that those who had advantages in this world would give back to those who did not and to their country that helped them to make it. Privilege brought with it responsibility and while not all wealthy people helped those in need, there are many examples even today of those who dedicate part of their wealth or time to advance others. The last time I was at the Hadassah Hospital here in Jerusalem, I saw the new Bloomberg wing for mother and child. One may not like the man’s politics or his media empire, but clearly Michael Bloomberg feels that part of his wealth should be used to help others. Even as mayor of New York, he spent $12 million of his own money on city projects. Michael Bloomberg was born to a bookkeeper father and an at-home mother. Bloomberg believed that financial companies would want business-related information in real time and would be willing to pay for it. He took a large risk and could have failed with his news company if the market was not as he thought or if someone had done it better. There was no guarantee that he would succeed, and had he failed, nobody would have come to help pick up the pieces. He took a risk and succeeded. For every successful inventor or entrepreneur, there are dozens whose bets did not pay off. Each of us is expected to use all that is available to us with our own effort and risk-taking to get as far along in life as possible. Guaranteeing outcomes means that people like Bloomberg would have no reason to take the risks.


There are two ways to get more even outcomes—help those in need to get ahead or to punish those who are successful by pulling them down. The Left’s goal of leveling the playing field by pulling down those who took that which they were given and made something out of it will not help the poor. Denying Whites admission or advancement will not make non-Whites more successful. Harvard admitted in court that without their denying many Asian students acceptance to the undergraduate college, the Black population on campus would be much smaller. Harvard’s goal should have been to help Black students become more competitive prior to applying. Harming Asian applicants who threw themselves into their studies and activities to be worthy of admission is a sign of a failed admission system. The lawsuit brought by Asian student organizations against Harvard was recently heard by the Supreme Court.

The goal of throwing white privilege at people who of no fault of their own were born Caucasian and of means or backgrounds not of their choosing will not help Blacks, Hispanics and others to succeed. The goal is simply to pull down those who strive so that we can all be mediocre together. Rather than demanding that rigorous standards be met for college acceptance, joining the SEALs or being accepted for pilot training, standards are lowered—even the SAT is being abandoned. Those who succeed are not lauded for their efforts and determination but rather are accused of being recipients of gifts and background conditions that were unfair as if their personal efforts in maximizing the usefulness of their starting conditions were meaningless. Claims of white privilege are based on the destructive idea that we should all have equality of outcomes (“equity”) rather than allowing each and every American to succeed according to his/her abilities and personal efforts. By demanding equality of outcomes and accusing Whites of having some privilege that gives them an unfair leg up in all of life’s activities, those on the Left are demanding mediocrity; they are effectively telling students not to push themselves, not to try their best, because whatever they do, the results are not theirs and that their successes have been at the expense of others.


Accusing Whites of having unfair advantage will not help “people of color” succeed. That which is needed is a focus on the family in Black communities. Black births out of wedlock in the US are greater than 50 percent. The most important factor in success is not money but rather family. Children study, learn to take risks, and push themselves because they know that their families have their backs. Stable and successful Black families will do more to advance Black men and women to success than all the efforts to punish Whites for being white. Tiger Woods’ son is already playing golf with his dad. There is no question that he has an enormous advantage over future golfers of his age. Should he be punished? Should he be accused of privilege and denied a professional golf career? Of course not. He should be encouraged to push himself to become an amazing athlete and golfer like his dad if he sees golf as his future.

One reads now and then of Whites being punished for no other crime than the color of their skin. Whether it is a sign-language translator fired from his job on Broadway or teacher candidates denied jobs because of their skin color, Whites are being told that because of a supposed privilege they inherited, they do not deserve to work or to benefit from their skills and efforts. United Airlines has made much noise about wanting to have a more diverse flight crew. My only concern as a passenger in the back is having the best pilots at the front of the plane; I could not care less if it is a man or a woman, or what color he or she is. Not for United. Will they sacrifice pilot quality to reach their minority pilot quota? Will anyone take responsibility if something goes wrong in the air? Of course not. In business and government, nobody takes responsibility for failure.


A person is charged in this world with using whatever skills, gifts, and opportunities he or she has with a personal drive to get as far along in life as possible. There is no question that for some the road to success is longer and harder than for others, but pulling down one group will not help others to succeed. I once heard an interview with the daughter of a very famous musician. She said that her last name automatically got her auditions, but if she could not perform on the piano at the highest professional level, her father’s name and reputation would not help her land a job. America needs to focus on encouraging and supporting those who wish to succeed, regardless of skin color or starting point. Success must be seen as what you did with yourself and not where you started.

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