The Simple Dollar tackles privilege and advantage

Well, well, well. Looks like I haven’t been the only one told that my story is due to “privilege.”

“The other day, I received a note from a reader who informed me that the only reason that my story of financial recovery was even possible was due to my own ‘privileges.’

“In the end, life deals you a hand of cards. Sometimes that hand of cards is good and sometimes it isn’t, but the game isn’t over after the deal. You choose how to play your hand and make the most of it.”

This idea that Trent or I only did what we did because of our (unspecified) privileges is toxic. Yes, disadvantage is real. Privilege is real. But telling people that their success was possible only through privilege is just as oppressive as telling people that success is only for the privileged. I’m white, I pulled my ass out of debt. If I did so only because of my privilege, does that mean that someone who is Latino or physically handicapped or transgendered can’t pull themselves out? That their “disadvantage” makes it so that they can never hope to achieve what I have?

Last time I checked, that was called “racism.” See also: “offensive.”


2 Responses to “The Simple Dollar tackles privilege and advantage”

  1. I think the problem here is a false comparison of scale. White Americans are definitely a privilege bunch, and there’s no dispute about that- economically, socially, politically it is true.

    But to reply to a very anecdotal account, your PERSONAL story on living through debt, paying it off, and making sacrifices, with a macro-issue is a stretch- and unfair to you, who lived it. I do love that internet folk are tackling issues of racial, environmental and gender justice, but I feel they are not always using their knowledge in constructive ways.

    I can tell a story about non-white people that also paid off their debt. Who made sacrifices. Many of them actually. Who only knew broken English. (My parents are on example.)

    You’re educated, you know the status quo. You know we are an unequal society. And you’re trying to make it better through your personal story. Let’s all try to work together.

    Have a good week Fox!

    • I think you’ve hit what has always bothered me about the overly-offended crowd. Privilege and the intersection of it with race, class, sexuality, and even language (oh, man, I cannot begin to imagine the hell that is only speaking broken English in Texas), are far more nuanced and variable than many well-meaning but misguided people realize.

      And in many ways, it’s hurting an otherwise fantastic movement. It alienates sympathetic people, both privileged and not. There are times when it feels like the options are A) half crazed SJW who feels minorities can do no wrong or B) redneck lunatic who feels minorities can do no right. It’s starting to feel nearly impossible to hang on to a moderate position. I want to like the SJW’s and I agree with their sentiments…but being unwilling to deal with the blanket statements apparently lands me in the “racist” category. Then I go home and I’m the damned liberal with my refusal to categorize people simply because of their skin color or their immigrant status.


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