White Privilege

I won’t repeat very much of what is found in these two articles about so-called white privilege. They almost adequately address the phenomenon of superior life outcomes, on average, among whites relative to blacks. What are the causes, according to the writers? This is from the second article:

Geographic determinism, personal responsibility, family structure, and culture work [together] to explain differences in outcomes. Recall Raj Chetty, whose research found a correlation between neighbourhoods and economic mobility. His study turned up only one other local characteristic that rivalled social capital in boosting social mobility: two-parent households. However, it isn’t enough just to live in a two-parent household. If you grow up amid intact families, the American Dream is alive and well. Indeed, the proliferation of intact families in a neighbourhood serves to increase social capital.

Furthermore, the social capital which underpins geographic determinism is ultimately a consequence of the culture of a neighbourhood. These values influence the decisions made by those living in the neighbourhood. These decisions then feed into family structure, ultimately reinforcing the neighbourhood’s culture while preserving social capital.

All of this is to say, each of these factors are connected. On their own, they can only explain part of why group outcomes differ. But together, they paint a clearer picture than the one drawn by the adherents of white privilege.

These factors are less thrilling than blaming a specific racial group. If we want to feel the satisfaction of directing blame while enhancing in-group solidarity, then invoking white privilege is not a bad strategy. “White privilege” gives you a simple answer and a clear enemy. But if we truly want to understand and mitigate group differences, then taking a closer look at the data is a far better approach.

Here and throughout the two articles, however, the writers fail to name and discuss the basic determinant of differential outcomes between blacks and whites, on average. It is the crucial determinant which underlies those that they list. That determinant, of course, is the wide and persistent white-black intelligence gap.

Greater intelligence means, among many things, higher income (and thus a greater propensity to accumulate wealth), a willingness to defer gratification and to strive toward long-term objectives (by saving and acquiring education, for example), and a less-violent disposition (and thus a lower propensity to commit crimes that result in long-term incarceration, sustained loss of income, and family dissolution).

The intelligence gap can be called a privilege only if the superior ability of blacks, on average, to jump higher and sprint faster than whites can be called a privilege. I am waiting in vain to hear about black-athletic privilege, which has produced a multitude of black multi-millionaires. (I am also waiting in vain to hear about Askhkenazi Jew privilege and East Asian privilege, inasmuch as members of both groups, on average, are more intelligent and thus, on average, more highly compensated than non-Ashkenazi Americans.)

An essential fact of life is that every human being possesses a different set of physical and mental endowments than every other human being. And it is a matter of personal responsibility to make the most of one’s endowments. Blaming one’s failures on others may, somehow, be satisfying (though it has never been my style). And it may even result in the tearing down of others (e.g., affirmative action, which has penalized millions of better-qualified whites; a massive tax burden, borne disproportionately by whites, to support mostly futile attempts to lift up blacks).

But the effect of such schemes has been to harm blacks in many ways; for example, by depriving them of jobs that might have been created for them with wasted tax dollars, by putting them in jobs and college majors that they couldn’t handle, and by teaching them personal irresponsibility.