‘WHITE PRIVILEGE’: Did It Cause the Ferguson Riots?

Written by Kevin Fobbs on August 28, 2014

Sometimes you have to wonder how much time people have on their hands to come up with ideas like so-called White privilege was the match that ignited the recent Ferguson, Missouri riots. As former President Ronald Reagan commented once, “Here we go again.”

Yet, this was the case that was presented by none other than Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly as she debated Bill O’Reilly on his popular conservative talk show this week, according to Fox News. So perhaps it was not the unarmed murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson that got the riot party started after all.

There have been a lot of ideas bandied about yet the white privilege riot starter idea has not been one which has been used, at least not by conservatives on a conservative talk show. To be fair to Megyn Kelly, she was not trying to put all of the blame at the feet of “white privilege”, but she was making a very combative case that it had a good amount to do with the mindset of the good rioting townsfolk of Ferguson.

There is no question that racism and inequality has played a large part in what led to imbalance and unequal justice for blacks after slavery and leading up to the civil rights movements of the 50’s and 60’s. But clearly it appears that the idea white privilege — meaning that white Americans enjoy special societal benefits not afforded blacks caused the Ferguson looting, plundering, burning of businesses — is more than a very long, long, long stretch!

Megyn Kelly provided a slew of statistics concerning the role that family, culture and personal responsibility that somehow interacted with supposed white privilege. Kelly shared her sociological view and statistics, “showing the vastly different conditions for blacks and whites in Ferguson, Missouri, and in the United States at large,” reported Fox News.

While not dismissing Kelly’s statistics, O’Reilly countered with what has to be the primary reason for Ferguson imbalances and that was families, culture and personal responsibility. He highlighted an example of Asian Americans who arrive in America with a language barrier, but who outperform everyone academically including whites. There were imbalances but they worked to overcome them.

Kelly came back with statistics which point to black children being four times more likely to live in a poor neighborhood than whites and the schools are inadequate. What Kelly did not factor in to Ferguson, and by analogy other majority black cities, is where the responsibility of the parents or the school administration is? The culture of poverty and the culture of bad education did not begin with the death of Michael Brown.

Somehow in the midst of this very spirited and quite earnest debate were several ingredients that seemed to be missing from the menu of sociological plate of hard statistics. Ferguson may in fact have poverty, under performing schools and even joblessness and high dropout rates. But where are the marches by the community’s demanding that the parents take responsibility for their kids. Where are the parents who should be putting pressure on schools and school officials to teach their kids in partnership with increased parent participation?

All the well intended statistics in the world that are offered up by the well meaning Megyn Kelly’s will not move a bad acting kid to do the right thing and not steal from a store and engage in alleged unwarranted assaultive acts on Officer Wilson. Brown’s death is indeed tragic but it has about as much to do with white privilege as a bullet has with an apple; nothing at all.

Parents and community leaders of Ferguson should consider less blaming and taking on more personal responsibility. It is a much more powerful weapon to use against a system that is allegedly keeping a community shackled. White privilege is a phrase that liberals use to weaponize unwarranted guilt whites should feel for the conditions they did not create or the results which they are not responsible for.

Bottom line, white privilege is not the reason for Ferguson riots and Fox News’ Megyn Kelly and Bill O’Reilly only touched the surface in identifying the real reason.

Image: http://nachalooman.wordpress.com/2010/08/18/white-privilege-is-a-bitch/


Kevin Fobbs
Kevin Fobbs has more than 35 years of wide-ranging experience as a community and tenant organizer, Legal Services outreach program director, public relations consultant, business executive, gubernatorial and presidential appointee, political advisor, widely published writer, and national lecturer. Kevin is co-chair and co-founder of AC-3 (American-Canadian Conservative Coalition) that focuses on issues on both sides of the border between the two countries.