To Undermine White Privilege, Teach White People What It Means to Be Cool

Lately, a lot of people have started having some much‐needed conversations about white privilege. Unfortunately, many of these conversations have been generating more heat than light. Nobody likes to be told that they are ignorant, and people whose own families have only barely escaped from grinding poverty (and who are at risk of sliding back in) resent being told that they have had it easy at someone else’s expense. Thus, the discussions about white privilege could easily serve as a way to divide black people from the working class white people who should be their natural political allies. So I suggest that progressive activists think carefully about how they frame these discussions. Rather than carelessly accusing strangers of being ignorant exploiters, we might try to talk about what it means to be cool, why so many black people are so effortlessly cool, and how a white person can become somewhat less uncool.

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