The Instigator
saltzr
Con (against)
The Contender
tumeric
Pro (for)

White Privilege Part II?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/12/2017 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 185 times Debate No: 98920
Debate Rounds (4)
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saltzr

Con

Shall we continue? Or shall we put it to rest?
tumeric

Pro

Great, thanks for setting this up. I'll finish this round with my response to round three.

First, I want to say something about Con's style of argument. My opponent keeps bringing up a social theory and wants to know how white privilege fits into that model. The outlines of the model as presented above generally make sense to me, but the model, as a theory of social science, properly belongs to the realm of the humanities (along with history and economics) and not 'hard' science. It has explanatory and interpretive power but probably not predictive power, and definitely can't be used to prove or disprove some proposition. This is because the nature of history has many threads, and also because the factors in the model aren't measurable (what level of competitive pressure spurs group sorting? At what population level do people begin to sort themselves by race and culture rather than by individual factors?)

That said, in order to address Con's argument, I'm constructing my response to show how white privilege fits Con's model (at least my understanding of it) up to the present day.

First, as I said in the comments in part I, it's not realistic to say that there are times or places with no competitive pressures. The principle theory of economics is limited supply and unlimited demand. Your college of choice admits only so many students per year. Your business could always have a few more customers. Your local tax rate could be 5% higher or lower.

Second, all things being equal, if white people establish privilege at the outset (black slavery was a condition of the US economy at its founding), then we should expect that head start to continue unless something to correct it happened. But all things are not equal, as the early-mid twentieth century was a time of unique potential and formative power -- it was the period in which the American middle class was built.

But black people were cut out of this great project as it was happening -- denied many of the mechanisms of this transformation: State schools would not accept black students; unions kept blacks out of good factory jobs; federally backed home loans specifically prohibited black purchasers; homeowners associations barred would-be buyers. Any observant person today must acknowledge that the opportunities to join the middle class are no longer as promising as they once were. In fact the middle class is in decline.

Third, affirmative steps have been taken to freeze in place the status quo. When desegregation began, so did 'white flight' from urban areas. Whites incorporated themselves into new cities where they controlled their own separate schools, and more importantly, their own taxation and fiscal policies. Before Reagan, the share of income going to taxes was extraordinarily high, the top tax bracket was something like 80%. The idea of pitching into the community pot was not an odd idea. That began to change when black people could not be excluded. Que the famous quote by Lee Atwater, advisor to Ronald Reagan:

"You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can"t say "nigger""that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states" rights, and all that stuff, and you"re getting so abstract. Now, you"re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you"re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites." "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger.""

But note this: even if Atwater's opinion is wrong -- and tax cutting isn't a racist proposition but rather an appreciation of individual rights like they say it is -- the effect of this is to freeze in place the historical dynamic nonetheless, since fewer resources are changing hands, and since physical (neighborhood) segregation, previously established, ensures less incidental transaction between white and black people.

And I haven't even mentioned yet the war on crime, the war on drugs, and the enormous growth of our penitentiary system.
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