“Your actions, not your race, determine your level of success”


Zachary Rhines

At the end of last semester, I gave a presentation as part of a class requirement.  In this presentation, I posited the argument that the government should not be in the business of regulating speech, regardless of how “hateful” some may perceive certain speech. 

Midway through my presentation, while making a related argument, my professor had the audacity to interrupt me and proclaim in front of the entire class that I was not qualified to speak on the subject because of my “white privilege.”  Fearing that any retort may adversely impact my grade, I did not respond. But had I responded, I would have posited the notion that “white privilege” as it is commonly used, does not exist.

Privilege itself is a very real concept; it mostly manifests in individual socioeconomic status. For example, if you were born incredibly wealthy, you are more likely to become successful. “White privilege,” however, is the idea that white people are inherently treated better and receive societal benefits purely because of their skin color. This concept is nothing short of asinine. Attributing success purely to skin color is inherently racist and carries no basis in fact.

Different aspects of our legal and political systems protect against laws that discriminate against a citizen based on race.  If a legislative body changes such a law, we have judicial remedies that protect people from being targeted for their race.

But the idea of “white privilege” assumes that even though we have these systems and safety nets, there is still some sort of sinister, invisible force of racism that is propping up white citizens, specifically white men.

Proponents of “white privilege” will have you believe that this sort of evil system exists, but can point to no particularized evidence. They feel, however, that this force exists and therefore that trumps the fact that they cannot back up claims of white privilege with any supporting facts, statistical or otherwise. These proponents attribute differing outcomes to skin color as opposed to individual accountability.     

Success, or lack thereof, is almost always a direct result of personal decisions. Everybody, regardless of skin color, faces numerous challenges and obstacles in their lives.

In responding to these obstacles, people make certain decisions. Time after time, those who either make good decisions or learn from bad decisions come out on top. Conversely, those who make bad choices normally end up wildly unsuccessful.  This is how the world works. Your actions, not your race, determine your level of success in life.