Challenging Notions of Privilege: A Response to Dr. Moore’s Visit

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The views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Holderness School.  The Picador serves to stimulate discourse through the thoughtful and respectful exchange of ideas and recognizes that a range of perspectives must be considered in order to foster such discourse. 

 

It may be simply a difference of opinion, but there is something about Dr. Moore’s visit that managed to both disappoint and meet expectations. Over the past few years, I have taken up increased interest in the social climate of the United States, and while my views lean heavily towards the right, I was excited to hear from Dr. Moore, the founder of the White Privilege Conference. It is not as if I love to listen to people who disagree with me, but rather that I have an interest in hearing as many perspectives and ideas as possible. I also believe that the best possible way to prove one’s argument is to disprove that of the other side. Dr. Moore, when he did bring up those who do not believe in white privilege, did so dismissively, explaining that he had given up on trying to convince them. I would be really interested to see Dr. Moore try to incorporate some other ideas into his presentations that more accurately reflect the views of the other side of the coin while also getting into some of the more tangible problems that, unlike white privilege, seem to require a level of activity beyond being aware of it. As explained by Barack Obama in 2008, “children raised without fathers in the home are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, nine times more likely to dropout of school, and are 20 times more likely to end up in prison.” I understand that the concept of white privilege is often popularized and preached as fact, but it is at least worth looking into the rise in single motherhood rates, which has occurred across all racial lines since the 1960s, but especially in the black community, and its effect on youth.

 

One of the most important things that Dr. Moore touched on was a willingness to have an open discussion about issues in our society, no matter how inflammatory it can be. While at the end he seemed to take a step back from this idea, claiming that he had given up trying to change the minds of people who don’t believe in white privilege, the idea of not being afraid to talk about controversial topics should be universally true and is beneficial for everybody. Being able to sit down with and have a constructive conversation with people who have differing views, while also maintaining respect for that person, is something that has been lost over the past few years. Civil debate has been replaced by passive aggressive tweets and mobs of people who would rather drown out any intellectual opponents than hear what they have to say. I may not agree with all of his views, but I do agree that people need to shed their fears and at least be willing to delve into some of these hard to talk about issues, or else we can’t make progress towards a solution. When Martin Luther King Jr., once famously said that “People should not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” he most certainly did not envision a world where success is continually attributed not to the self, but rather to that person’s group identity. Honestly, it’s all a bit disheartening, having successes belittled and attributed to the color of one’s skin and the inherent advantages that came with it instead of the effort that person put in. Disparity does not always mean discrimination.