Letter: White privilege truths

Tuesday, December 19, 2017
White privilege truths

John Meinhold’s false-equivalency “evidence” goes with his cluelessness about white privilege (Monitor Forum, Dec. 14). What he attempts to cite as white oppression is actually class oppression – certainly not attributable to black people or other non-white ethnic groups.

Meinhold’s Appalachian forebears, poor immigrants from Eastern Europe, worked in certifiably horrible conditions due to the greed of heartless white robber barons. Regarding the Sicilians who were murdered in New Orleans, this was carried out by the elite white class, themselves profiteers of slavery, and founding members of the Krewe of Comus. (I’m a native New Orleanian and descendant of the Sicilian community. As the society photographer for the Times-Picayune, I knew that elite community well: They still bar people who are black, Italian or Jewish from membership). And for Meinhold to cite as proof of the myth of white oppression an 1840s quote that says “Paddies’” were worth less than African slaves is laughable: The lives of their “real property” meant nothing to slave owners; most had insurance against losses, for one, and I doubt a single Irishman would have begged to trade places.

His poverty statistics are also dubious: According to the 2010 U.S. Census report, the highest rate is American Indians and Alaska Natives (27 percent), black people (25.8 percent), Pacific Islanders (17.6 percent), Vietnamese (14.7 percent), Koreans (15 percent), Filipinos (5.8 percent), Hispanics (16.2 percent), Cubans (26.3 percent), white people (12 percent).

And who is responsible for that poverty, for the loss of good jobs, safe working conditions? Look no further than the robber barons of today: the greed-driven white men of Wall Street and the Republican administration.