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Reflection on Problems in the Discourse of Equal Opportunity & Privilege and a vision.




There are foundational sociological arguments that advocate for equal opportunity, for example in education, health care, and housing. Mostly those arguments are intended to increase the longevity, health and vitality of people and communities that are systematically violated by documenting the violations, and advocating for progressive change. These arguments use equal opportunity and equity as an ethical basis for their argument. 


There are uses of this argument that erode its intended purpose. One is the power of aggregate notions overstepping their meaning.  A helpful use of aggregate data, for example, is the documentation of how Black men are given less pain killers for recovering from the same surgery as White men, demonstrating the heinous racism at play in the medical system.  Using mortgage default rates of Black families to legitimate higher interest rates for qualified Black families makes a greedy application of research error: Applying aggregate data to individuals. This issue marks the difference in interpreting data for the group versus interpersonal relations in the context of the group information. The aggregate data above demonstrates harmful and violent trends.


However, aggregate data does not predict the behavior of individuals, particularly after Wells Fargo's office was fined and shut down for targeting poor white and Black families with predatory mortgages. And we should not slide down the same slippery slopes when the notion of "privilege" is used to apply aggregate data to individuals.  Remember Peggy McIntosh, the theorist naming "privilege," is an upper-class European-American woman stumbling into an awareness of her own freedom from slights of racism.  "Privilege's" meaning is entrenched in the elitist Aristocratic culture where unearned "privilege' is the foundation of the European caste system.  That caste system uses rank, stigma, and media manipulation to legitimate that, in this instance, race is a worthy factor in which to discriminate between people.  This is their way of re-organizing access to the means of survival and luxury in their benefit, so European-Americans are seen as those responsible for their lack, rather than the decision makers. May we mobilize across difference to change that bullshit. For those who wish to not participate in such greedy and possessive relations, we must not use these masters' tools and that include the epistemological foundation of "privilege." 


I want no part of reproducing the powerful stereotypes and media conditioning of groups with "marginalized" nor "centered" status, and that must be inclusive of when European-Americans demonstrate assumptions of white supremacy, entitlement, and rudeness.  The corporately advertised culture masquerading as European-American culture has no connection to Life, no heart nor commitment to wisdom, no ability to take the time to get to know people, to connect and partner with others, to connect to the living world and seek to understand and be a vital participant in the fun of it all, because contact is a means to an end, a step on another's ladder.


Being the "better person" means not being better at all but meeting who is there and being committed to understanding, working from there.  It means recognizing the very deep struggles people in our own circles have, problems that we blame the other side for having. The hard road is the one that doesn't give up on our interpersonal relationships with those on the constructed "other" side because we know in the end, they are related. The United States is quickly becoming the most multicultural and multiracial society on the planet. Bring on all the knowledge and wisdom that is coming to people walking on this Indian country. May walking in Beauty be the legacy for all.

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