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Renaming my Racial Privilege Series on OpEdNews: Reflexivity and Zooming Out

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I initially named one of my OpEdNews series 'White Privilege Investigations.' I looked at the summary today, and it said:

This series of reflections discusses the much-maligned notion of 'white privilege.' Is white privilege just a conversation-stopper, or is it a genuinely helpful model for understanding racial inequality and oppression? Is white privilege 'privilege from' or 'privilege to,' and what does that even mean anyway? And does white privilege manifest itself in commonly-expressed visions of history, e.g. the 'man of his time' fallacy?

I have felt uncomfortable with the rather pompous sounding 'White Privilege Investigations' series title for some time. So instead, I am renaming the series

Racial Privilege is Mighty!

This is a title which is a little less feisty and less po-faced. I may have 'problem glasses,' but I don't really wish to be seen as a problem-glasses-wearer; particularly given my economic background and status. So in keeping with this anti-elitist and anti-intellectual (but far from anti-academic!) stance, I have now renamed the series, and also made a careful selection of existing articles to add to the series in question (as well as rewording the introduction somewhat).

Initially, the series previously included only an article with a fairly standard account of white privilege specifically (albeit with the somewhat innovative terminological angle of 'privilege from' versus 'privilege to.') However, I have now added a critique of the elitist 'Global Citizen' and a certain Swiftian 'modest proposal' on Universalism and Relativism.

I think what is important here, in terms of reflexivity, are the following insights:

1. A purely theoretical account of racial privilege is fine, but applying this notion to specific persons, such as the privileged cosmopolitan, or the apologist for history's 'men of their time,' can help bring out more clearly what is at issue in the notion.

2. And in the case of the historical Universalism and Relativism article, an ironic twist where I 'pretend' to hold the same kind of views I am criticizing can also be very illustrative and provocating; rather 'defamiliarizing,' as it were.

3. A serious account of racial privilege requires discussion of the 'respectable' privilege, and not just the explicitly racist. I do find it interesting that liberal interventionist and neocon thought are barely even 'privileged,' let alone fully 'white supremacist' in the eyes of some; this needs to be challenged. So the apparently anti- nationalist globalist or cosmopolitan, as well as the dusty intellectual who 'gives every man his due,' are similarly not above criticism.

4. All this being said, I would like to zoom out further into other forms of racial privilege. It is not difficult to think of non-white forms of racial privilege. The experience of Rohingya in Myanmar, Ainu and Koreans in Japan, or white farmers in Zimbabwe, shows that there is nothing 'eternal' about the racial privilege of white people; keen attention to historical nuance and context is extremely desirable, in order to create a clearer picture of the wide array of privileged racial identities past and present.

I look forward to further enriching the series as I proceed!

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Jonathan Ferguson is a socio-economic liberal with strong libertarian leanings in some key issues.

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