You’ve got an exercise machine. The first month you had it you rode an hour a day. Your feeling of guilt about being out of shape and overweight faded as you peddled mile after imaginary mile. After a few weeks you moved a large flat screen monitor so you could watch as you rode. Then you mounted a drink cup holder to the machine handles. With that and a long straw you could sip as you worked out. The hour a day starts to dwindle, soon its half an hour, then a quarter hour. At each point you had a rationale for doing less. Eventually the exercise bike becomes a hat rack and disappears under its load of coats and jackets.
One day, at the office, someone explains the concept of white privilege to you. You’ve often wondered why more of you co-workers were not people of color. Now you understand. You’ve taken their job!, not by being more qualified but simply because of your race. Your advantage, your privilege, is unearned! You feel great shame, guilt. You look for ways to expiate the guilt but it only grows. In some religions, those believing we are born guilty, there are rituals of atonement. Self flagellation, ritual cutting and lacerating of the flesh, then parading thru towns with others. A procession of bleeding penitents descending into valleys, winding thru villages, ascending ridges. More practical in rural Sicily than Manhattan. What is an urban office worker to do? Just as there are machines to assuage the guilt of flabby flesh and lack of exercise – there is one to automate expiation. Introducing the Flail-o-tron. flailing one’s self is difficult and ineffective. Having a machine, fully programmable, do the flailing, is the answer.
Note for those without irony/nuance skills. Beating yourself up for perceived privilege does nothing to prevent black citizens being beaten up by racist cops. Nothing. Its another empty gesture. This so called “privilege” is only what’s due a citizen, all citizens, their rights under the law. The denial of those rights to part of the population because of deep seated racism hasn’t been caused by you. You got the job and your black brother didn’t, when he was more qualified, not because of your action, but because of the employer’s attitude. In 1968 when I was a young man, many cops felt they could beat up anyone with long hair. It was perceived as anti war and liberal. Society gave cops the idea that it was OK. Change society at its root. Anything else is window dressing.