Home > Despite the Rooney Rule and Diversity Officers, White Male Privilege Prevails

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When you are a privileged White male, you don’t have to be equal to much less demonstrably better than women or people of color in order to be successful.  Nor do you have to work twice as hard to be equal; constantly ingratiate yourself; or as is often said, “Go along to get along.”  You don’t even have to be fully qualified for the position you hold and, indeed, you could be unfit to serve.  Since many privileged White males remain in denial regarding their status and other people need to be reminded of how White male privilege functions in society, the intent herein is to provide clarifying examples.  

First, consider an example provided by the National Book Award winning author, Jesymn Ward.  In her 2017 novel Sing, Unburied, Sing, Ward illustrated deep-seated White male privilege when an African American prisoner, Riv, was selected to be the hunter to train and use dogs to capture prison escapees.  Ward wrote, “…the dog keepers were always older and White…  Even though some of those White men had …escaped and then been sent back to Parchman after they’d  …killed or raped or maimed, the sergeant still chose them to train the dogs.  …Even though they were terrible, dangerous White men, the old-timers still took more offense when they knew Riv would be the hunter…” (p.137).  As the examples below will demonstrate, those privileged in real life often turn out to be as dangerous as the White men who returned to Parchman and became the dog hunters. 

Case Number 1, Brett Talley: How to Become a Federal Judge Nominee

  1.       Be unanimously rated not qualified by the American Bar Association;
  2.       At age 36, have practiced law for only 3 years; never argued a motion; never brought a case;
  3.       Happen to be a protégé of a former Republican Senator; and
  4.       Have a wife who is one of POTUS 45’s lawyers and fail to disclose this as required during a confirmation hearing.  (For details, see Baltimore Sun; November 13, 2017, p. 4)

Case Number 2, John Hinckley Jr: Attempt to Assassinate a United States President and Not Spend Life in Prison without Chance of Parole

John Hinckley Jr. was convicted of attempting to assassinate President Ronald Regan.  During the shooting spree, Hinckley shot 3 others, including James Brady who died from the wound.  After spending 35 years in a mental hospital, Hinckley was released to live with his grandmother.  By way of contrast, an African American man, Anthony DeWayne Gillis of Supply, Va., was convicted of possessing cocaine, making false statements, possessing a firearm, and sentenced to 145 years in prison.  It took a commutation by President Obama to reduce his sentence to 20 years.

Case Number 3, Sheriff Jeff Hobby:  Sheriff Gone Wild

On April 14, 2017, without probable cause or other legal basis, Sheriff Jeff Hobby placed the school on lockdown and ordered his deputies to search every Worth County High School student (approximately 900) for possession of drugs.  According to a November 15, 2017 Atlanta Constitution article, some girls reported that “…deputies inserted their fingers inside their bras touching them and exposing parts of their breasts in front of other students. Other girls said deputies touched their underwear and genital area, placing their hands inside the waistband of the underwear or up their dresses.  Male students accused deputies of touching their genital areas.” 

It was not until October 3, 2017 that Sheriff Hobby was indicted on 2 counts of false imprisonment, 1 count of sexual battery and 1 count of violating his oath of office.   It took until October 31, 2017 for Governor Nathan Deal to appoint a review commission to determine if Hobby could function effectively as administrator of the Sheriff’s office.  Belatedly, on November 13 2017, the Governor suspended Hobby after having received a November 9, 2017 commission report that unanimously recommended suspension.

Case Number 4:  The Wrongful Conviction Paradigm

As detailed by Rick Tulsky, Shalia Dewan and Andrew Rossback in their November 22, 2017 New York Times article, a 17 year-old African American male, Lamont McIntyre, was wrongfully convicted by the illegal conduct of several privileged White males.  In particular, [1] A White male detective, Roger Golubski, forced McIntyre’s mother to engage in oral sex by making threats if she refused and, when she did, he might have sought revenge; [2] the detective is said to have extorted sexual favors from other females and had an ongoing relationship with one of the key witnesses; [3] the police rigged the lineup in which McIntyre was “identified;” and [4] the Judge and Prosecutor had a previous love affair. 

Case Number 5: The Quintessential Privileged White Male

The “Liar in Chief” has told at least 1,300 lies at a rate of 5.5 lies per day (November 14, 2017 Washington Post).  In turn, he enabled other liars.  As Robert Hill wrote, “the White House chief of staff lied and attacked a congresswoman at his boss’ behest.  From the cesspool that the White House has become, Chief of Staff Robert Kelly may have emerged last month as the saddest man in government.  Apart from President Donald Trump himself, Mr. Kelly may be the most shameless as well.  When he stood at the White House podium in a fruitless effort to purify the water Mr. Trump had putrefied in his squabble with Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson regarding Mr. Trump’s bungled outreach to the Gold Star widow of Sgt. La David Johnson…His challenge was to lie as completely and disrespectfully as his boss, which he accomplished…” (November 21, 2017 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).   

Not only has he lied with impunity but also, as a privileged White male, POTUS 45 has hurled racist invectives; attacked Muslims; described in the filthiest terms how he harassed women; insulted world leaders; insulted members of Congress; possibly colluded with Russians; and done a number of things that caused many to question is sanity.  Yet he maintains the base of support that elected him.

Unfortunately, ending White male privilege remains a “dream deferred.”  For example, notwithstanding the fact that higher education Diversity and Inclusion Officers have grown like fertilized grass during a mild spring with plenty of rain, “The profile of a typical U.S. college or university president …continues to be a white male in his early 60s…” (The American Council on Education’s 2017 President Study).   Founded in 1636, Harvard University has had but one President who was not a White male.  The University of Pittsburgh has been headed by only White males since its founding in 1787. 

Although the “Rooney Rule” enabled the hiring of and subsequent success of the Steelers’ Coach Mike Tomlin, African Americans continue to be the majority of NFL players but White males are disproportionately head coaches.  A similar situation exists in the college coaching ranks.  The ingrained nature of White males being privileged as coaches was illustrated when Geno Auriemma was asked about the low presence of women coaches and he replied, “It’s quite simple. Not as many women want to coach….”  (See, Washington Post March 31, 2017).   Anyone who believes such nonsense might also believe that Katherine Johnson and her colleagues preferred to work in segregated quarters at Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory and maintain a low profile because they didn’t want the stress associated with successfully sending John Glenn into space.


Jack L. Daniel (pictured above)

Co-Founder, Freed Panther Society

Pittsburgh Urban Media Contributor


December 1, 2017

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