… creates false dichotomies and unnecessary tension among people who actually agree with each other. If, instead of demanding that the poor white man must acknowledge his privilege, we remind him that other people are being denied their fundamental rights, he may wholeheartedly agree and eagerly join the movement.
I love the optimism of this, but many conversations with my fellow white people have led me to believe the optimism is baseless. There is a fundamental denial at work in most white minds. It’s a denial that others are being denied basic rights, but the reason is more abstract. The reason is that people tend to understand the respect of rights as something that only happens on paper.
So, once the Emancipation Proclamation happened, and Jim Crow laws were repealed, the prevailing white view became “okay, everyone has the same rights, so we’re good!” Of course, this fails to respect the distinction between theory and practice. In theory, people of color, women, and the LGBT community have the same rights as straight white men. In practice, we know that this is not the case.