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Privileged, me? My Grandad was from a working class background, you know

White people will reject claims of white privilege

A study shows they’re quick to cite personal hardships instead of acknowledging skin colour

It’s not something that’s up for dispute anymore. The thing is, hard as it might seem for some people to grasp, white people have probably had it a bit easier than people of colour. White privilege is undeniably, totally a real thing and the issue of racial privilege itself has been a big topic recently.

Whether it’s Amandla Sternberg teaching the internet that cultural appropriation is not acceptable or a black model like Nykhor Paul drawing attention to the unreasonable difficulties of having dark skin rather than white in the fashion industry, what was once brushed under the rug is now being thrown out for inspection. In the new world, privilege is there to be checked. But maybe it’s still not really being done.

Thankfully now science has done it’s thing and probed around. According to a recent study, white people are quick to cite personal hardships instead of acknowledging that they’re privileged as a result of their skin colour. Stanford Uni’s L Taylor Phillips and Brian S. Lowery split test subjects into two groups of 150 – with one given more evidence of white privilege in American culture than the other.

Interestingly – although perhaps not surprisingly – those given more information about privilege cited greater examples of personal hardship than the control group.

“Whites may claim increased hardships to maintain not only a positive sense of self, but also the material benefits associated with racial privilege. Whites’ claims of hardship might also serve to legitimize the racial advantages they enjoy, and thereby justify a system that benefits their group,” the researchers wrote in November’s Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Why do this? Is it just white people point blank denying they have more privilege than a POC? Well, the researchers say, citing struggles helped subjects acknowledge white privilege, while rationalising that they’re not directly gaining from it.

So admitting their privilege with a big "but". It helps them, according to the study, deal with how they view themselves and probably helps them sort through their own guilt. 

“By claiming life hardships, whites can protect their sense of self from threat associated with racial privilege. How can outcomes be undeserved, how can privilege have offered personal benefits, when life has been so hard.”

Putting it bluntly, the test subjects didn't acknowledge white privilege and deflected what they saw as accusations away. There you have it – white privilege exists, but some people are bad at admitting it.