Letter: White privilege does not filter our view

Posted 9/24/21

White Privilege may filter Stephan Brigidi’s view of the world, but it is presumptuous for him to use the word “our” to describe what is not a universal condition. …

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Letter: White privilege does not filter our view


White Privilege may filter Stephan Brigidi’s view of the world, but it is presumptuous for him to use the word “our” to describe what is not a universal condition.   

Coming from a community of immigrants, the term “white privilege” has a very hollow ring. These immigrants, Irish, Italian, Portuguese and a smattering of French and Polish came to the local area with little more than the shirts on their backs and an initial inability to communicate in English.

Many experienced discrimination, but this was not an impediment to their integration and eventual success. They succeeded without a Diversity Committee, but through hard work, strong family relationships, mutual support, a focus on education and adherence to their own choice of spirituality. The second generation of Italians in Bristol produced at least 12 doctors and a good number of engineers – a result of “white privilege” – not hardly.

All this focus on “color” instead of more meaningful traits is misplaced. The U.S. has always welcomed immigrants who arrived legally, worked hard, participated in their communities and succeeded. Martin Luther King was exactly right when he stressed the importance of hard work and education.

We find it curious that it is white elites who focus mostly on “white privilege.” Perhaps a feeling of guilt is driving this attitude. Maybe those promoting this line of thinking should give up their achievements and gains derived from their privilege. It is the only fair thing to do if they really believe their own rhetoric.

But no, the author’s bottom line is to promote the establishment of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee that he claims would never oversee council action or make direct policies, as it was intended to be an advisory group only. But be aware that these nice sounding terms have other meanings.

Diversity is a violation of individual identity and enforces intellectual conformity. The focus ought to be on Unity – not separation into opposing groups. Equity means equality of outcomes, regardless of differing effort. The focus ought to be on ensuring equality of opportunity for everyone to excel to everyone’s ability. Inclusion leads to restricted speech, banning whatever some find offensive, “safe spaces, trigger warnings” and other sops to individuals who are afraid to think for themselves and explore alternate viewpoints.

A DEI Committee is a solution in search of a problem. Perhaps Mr. Brigidi cannot see this due to “white privilege” filtering his view.

Mr. Brigidi’s efforts perhaps should instead focus on our Bristol Warren school system ,where 60 percent of graduates can’t meet minimum standards in math — a real problem, not an imagined one.

Michael Byrnes

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.