By James Abercrombie
NOTE FROM EDITOR: LOUIE GIGLIO, LEADER OF A CONSERVATIVE ATLANTA MEGACHURCH, SPARKED OUTRAGE ACROSS THE COUNTRY WHEN HE RECENTLY SAID, “WE UNDERSTAND THE CURSE THAT WAS SLAVERY, WHITE PEOPLE DO…AND WE SAY THAT WAS BAD. BUT WE MISS THE BLESSING OF SLAVERY, THAT IT ACTUALLY BUILT UP THE FRAMEWORK FOR THE WORLD THAT WHITE PEOPLE LIVE IN.”. WE ENCOURAGE READERS TO RESEARCH THE HISTORY OF “WHITE BLESSINGS” AND THE USE OF CHRISTIANITY TO JUSTIFY SLAVERY AND OTHER FORMS OF RACIAL OPPRESSION.
As a Christian, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Louie Giglio “White Blessing” thing. White privilege as a concept seems to be difficult for some folks to understand. It tends to put white people on the defensive. As I understand it, the concept of white privilege is like this: Imagine that you find a new TV on Craigslist for $200. You may not know that this model of TV typically goes for $800, but you buy it because it’s a good deal. One day, the police come to your door and tell you that you’ve unknowingly bought stolen goods. You will have to return the TV to its original owner. Now it kind of feels like someone is stealing from you… after all, you paid $200 for the TV, so it’s not like you got it for free. But whether you knew it or not, your good deal was subsidized by the fact that it was stolen from someone else.
Now imagine that the police didn’t make you return the TV to the original owner. You just had to face the fact that your TV was a good deal because it was stolen. That’s white privilege. No one’s asking you to return the TV. They’re just asking you to not ignore the fact that your good deal came at a cost to someone else.
So, with that in mind, the fact that we’re telling people to change the term “White Privilege” because it “trips people up” is bonkers. White Privilege is the nicest, most gentle way anyone could put this concept. Privilege makes it sound like something white people just have inherently, when in reality, it’s something white people have gained through generations of disenfranchisement, slave labor, lynching, rape, torture, redlining, gerrymandering, mass incarceration, and literal theft of land and property. You may not have participated in these things, but those things have subsidized your good deal.
“Blessings” is gross because it makes it sound like we were gifted something, like, “Oh, you’ve really blessed me today,” said in the way an elderly southern lady would say if you helped her reach something off of a high shelf at the grocery store. “Blessing” also implies it’s a gift from God, which is extra gross. You wouldn’t say “God really blessed me when I bought that stolen TV.”
When I’m talking to people about why I feel reparations are overdue, I tend to use the phrase “white people are still enjoying the fruits of slave labor” which, to me, implies we’re unjustly reaping something we didn’t sow, but maybe a better term would be “White Plunder.” Plunder being used in the noun form, meaning “property acquired illegally and violently.” But since that may be a little too radical for some, maybe let’s just stick with “White Privilege.”
James Abercrombie is an Atlanta-based husband, father, musician, and artist whose illustrations can be found at JamesAbercrombie.com.
NewPeople Newspaper VOL. 50 No. 5. July/August, 2020. All rights reserved.