May 8, 2014
I don’t know wtf is wrong with Princeton this year, but a while back we had the “Princeton Mom” go viral, and now we’ve got the infamous “White Privilege Kid,” also known as Tal Fortgang. Like what the hell Princeton people, are the parties that shitty that you’re spending all your time blogging? If so I will drive up there with a charity keg so you guys can stop ruining my internet experience.
Anyway. For all our liberal betches, maybe take a deep breath or a Xanax before our quick recap because your blood pressure’s going to spike like your BAC after your pregame. Here’s the basic gist of why the term “white privilege” grinds Tal’s gears.
First, there’s this:
“I do not accuse those who “check” me and my perspective of overt racism, although the phrase, which assumes that simply because I belong to a certain ethnic group I should be judged collectively with it, toes that line. But I do condemn them for diminishing everything I have personally accomplished … and for ascribing all the fruit I reap not to the seeds I sow but to some invisible patron saint of white maleness who places it out for me before I even arrive.”
Granted I’m a JAB so I’m not up to date on all my saints, but who’s the “patron saint of whiteness?” Is it Vanilla Ice?
“Furthermore, I condemn them for casting the equal protection clause, indeed the very idea of a meritocracy, as a myth, and for declaring that we are all governed by invisible forces (some would call them “stigmas” or “societal norms”), that our nation runs on racist and sexist conspiracies. Forget “you didn’t build that;” check your privilege and realize that nothing you have accomplished is real.”
Wow, where to even start? With “racist and sexist conspiracies?” I’m honestly not sure. Who’s saying the idea of a meritocracy is a myth? Like I’ve had a lot of people tell me to “check my privilege” but not once was that statement accompanied by “oh yeah and the idea of a meritocracy is a myth.” But I also think it’s cute that Tal lives in some magical fairy land where literally the single determinant of success is how hard you work. Maybe pick up a Malcolm Gladwell book or you know what, just wait till you get out in the real world and come to the rude awakening that you can’t get a job just by rolling up to your interview like “Yeah, I worked really hard in college so I’ll take that job now” (see: networking).
As an aside, as someone who got into Princeton of all places I thought you’d be chill with the fact that just “working hard” isn’t the only factor that comes into play when determining success (cough cough being able to pay for SAT tutors, cough cough doing the right extra curriculars, ok enough with the coughing I think I’ve got the black lung, pop).
And a final LOL at putting “stigmas” or “societal norms” in quotes as if they aren’t things that are literally real. Like if societal norms weren’t a thing there’d be nothing stopping the angry blogosphere from hunting this kid down, except for I guess the possibility of jail time.
Okay I’m done with this paragraph. Now as the great philosopher Jay-Z once said, “on to the next one.”
“But they can’t be telling me that everything I’ve done with my life can be credited to the racist patriarchy holding my hand throughout my years of education and eventually guiding me into Princeton.”
You’re right! They can’t be telling you that, because that’s not what they’re telling you. ICYMI (which you clearlyyyy did), the whole concept of privilege—which btw is not something that’s exclusive to white people—means that you may have had certain advantages over others, usually due to things that you can’t control (like what race/class/sex you happened to be born into). Not that you necessarily had it totally easy, but that relative to others, you may have had it easier.
Like take the fact that I drive like a fucking idiot all the time and the only time I’ve ever been pulled over was when I coincidentally wasn’t driving like an idiot, my plate lights were just out. I also wasn’t given a ticket, and my car wasn’t searched. I don’t even think I got a written warning, the cop was like, “K cool just get that shit fixed and we’ll be gravy.” Could I get away with running red lights and speeding through suburban neighborhoods at 3am, blasting Lil Wayne, if I wasn’t a white female more innocent-looking than fucking Abigail Breslin? Maybe, but like let’s be real, probably not.
Also, airports. I never bother to put liquids in a separate plastic bag, and I almost always put manicure scissors and a razor in my carry on and not even in an “I hide it in a bar of soap” kind of way. Like I just blatantly put that shit in there. Have I ever been detained by the TSA in an interrogation room for hours, or even pulled to the side for a one-on-one screening, or even been told, “hey you probably shouldn’t do that next time?” No. Again, it could be I’m just lucky, but seeing as I’ve entered to win Bonnaroo tickets like 5 times and no dice so far, I’m gonna go ahead and say that looking inconspicuous is helping me out in some way, considering it’s not like I’m flirting with the TSA (ew). Although maybe it’s because they’ve def seen my boobs thanks to those new x-ray machines. Unclear.
Look I’m not saying I can get away with murder just because I’m white (I’m not like George Zimmerman or anything), I’m just saying there are some good things about not having enough melanin so I have to wear sunscreen to the beach, like for instance unlike Oprah, when I go into an expensive boutique the store manager doesn’t automatically assume I’m trying to steal something.
Like once you get over the fact that no one’s trying to say “because you’re white/rich/male you’ve got everything handed to you and none of your accomplishments are legitimate” and realize what they’re actually saying is “there are some upsides to being white/rich/a dude” it becomes a lot less personal and a lot easier to get a straw and fucking suck it up.
Okay so onto the next part, where Tal does this very long bit where he traces his family’s history. It’s important to note here that his family def went through some hard times, being Jewish during the Holocaust. The Holocaust was really horrible and no one’s trying to trivialize it (but at the same time is that really SO much worse than being forced into slavery and not being considered a whole 5/5 of a human for centuries? Idk. Not trying to play the “who had it shittier” game, just saying). But so it ends like this, which is my actual fave part:
“Perhaps it was my privilege that my own father worked hard enough in City College to earn a spot at a top graduate school, got a good job, and for 25 years got up well before the crack of dawn, sacrificing precious time he wanted to spend with those he valued most—his wife and kids—to earn that living. I can say with certainty there was no legacy involved in any of his accomplishments. The wicker business just isn’t that influential. Now would you say that we’ve been really privileged? That our success has been gift-wrapped?”
Um, actually I’m pretty sure “your ancestors working their asses off and going through a lot of shit so that you personally didn’t have to” is literally the definition of privilege. So…yeah.
All I’m saying is that it’s okay to admit that to some extent, you were born into the lucky sperm club. No one’s personally gunning for you because they have a hatred of you that’s based solely on your skin color (lol, that would be what white people do) and no one even wants you to apologize for it. But shit, is it really so bad to admit that you get the advantage of having to work a little less than other people in the world? I obv personally love being able to skate by on less effort.
Remember in “Can I Have Yo Numa?” when Darrell was all, “Work that ponytail! Work that updo!” Well that’s what you should do because short of pulling a reverse Michael Jackson or like, a Tan Mom, you can’t change the fact that you’re white so just like do as Tim Gunn says and make it work.