An example of white privilege

The phrase ‘white privilege’ is often heard in discussions about race and ethnicity. In a recent post on how some people seem to be drawn to using the N-word, I linked to this cartoon by Keith Knight, in which he provides an example of what it looks like in practice.

I became curious about a parenthetical comment written in tiny letters below the last panel so I did what he suggested and did a search on the terms “25 blacks 1 white” and this was the story from 2017 that was returned.

According to CBS affiliate WCSC-TV, Michael Brown and 24 of his family and friends were at Wild Wing Cafe celebrating his cousin’s final day in Charleston, S.C., last month when the group was suddenly told to leave.

The reason? The shift manager allegedly told Brown that a white customer felt “threatened” by his party. When one of Brown’s companions started filming the exchange, the shift manager is said to have told the group to leave.

“[That] totally alarmed all of us because we’re sitting there peaceably for two hours,” Brown told the news outlet.

WCSC-TV reports that a representative at the chain reached out to Brown to apologize and offer a free meal for the group.

That is a good indicator of a privileged mentality. It would never occur to me to inform the management of any institution that I felt uncomfortable by the mere presence of someone else, unless they were directly targeting me. To not only feel that I can complain but actually have the management ask the group to leave because of my mere discomfort is a good indicator of the privilege that some groups of people feel.


  1. dave57 says

    What’s even more surprising is that the manager asked 25 people to leave instead of telling the one person that if they were not comfortable, they were free to go someplace else.

  2. rockwhisperer says

    @1 dave57,
    It doesn’t actually surprise me all that much. I suspect the shift manager didn’t want “those people” in the restaurant in the first place, and was delighted to have an excuse to get rid of them. (I’m assuming the shift manager was White.) Racism runs fiercely deep in far too many people. Not just racism, but every way of identifying a group they don’t belong to as “them”. These attitudes are extremely resistant to data that suggest they’re absolutely wrong.

    When I was growing up, my White parents had White friends whose daughter was supposedly raped and killed by a Black man. (We’re talking late 1950s or early 1960s when the event happened, in a city that has had a history of post-WWII racial tension, so it was a time and place where Black people were definitely scapegoats.) At any rate, the parents believed that the perpetrator was Black, and the fierceness of their hatred for every single Black person on the planet was breathtaking. The husband died in the early 1970s, and I remember the wife visiting my parents in the late 1970s, when I was home from university for the Christmas holidays. She griped and complained nonstop, whenever they decided to watch a football game, about how the sport had been “taken over” by [n-word people]. I made myself very, very scarce that holiday break. I’d spoken with my parents about her racism before, and they seemed to think that a visceral hatred for every single member of a race was a perfectly reasonable reaction to having one individual commit (an admittedly heinous) crime against them.

  3. blf says

    @2, Indeed. Another example: A relative of mine was noticeably bigoted towards Latinos, claiming they smelled different, could never never be trusted, and so on… Why? One holiday I finally found out the reason, they’d been a clerk in a shop when an possibly-Latino individual had shoplifted something. There was possibly more to the story then that — the relative was maddeningly unclear, and that conversation was a long time ago (so my own memory is suspect), but that seems to have been the “trigger”. I presume the relative was predisposed to the bigotry, but at the moment cannot (now) recall any evidence / suspicions one way or the other.

  4. mnb0 says

    “That is a good indicator of a privileged mentality.”
    Correct. But even white folks who don’t have that mentality often enjoy white privilege. Surinamese people treat me differently because they have positive bias towards people with white skins. An American example would be 1950’s Afro-American rock’n’roll artists preferring to perform in white bars because the latter paid better.

  5. sonofrojblake says

    Echoing mnb0 -- this isn’t white privilege, or rather, it’s not just white privilege. Everyone white gets white privilege whether they want it or not. This here is entitlement. “I get to have this restaurant be precisely as I wish it to be, and fuck what any two dozen other (little) people want”. The fact it actually gets indulged rather than told to fuck off and never come back (which is the response it would have got if I’d been the manager they’d complained to), that right there is white privilege.

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