Privilege vs. Protocol: Which is better for the sake of argument?

Recently, a friend sent me a video from UPWORTHY entitled One Easy Thing All White People Could Do That Would Make the World a Better Place.  It speaks to the existence and issue of “white privilege”.  You can view the video by clicking here.

After viewing the video, I discussed it with my friend whose position is an understandable one; that race and racism is an integral and unique part of the American experience, one that affects all of us regardless of the color of our skins.  She feels that in order to facilitate real, lasting change, we must come clean with each other and basically talk turkey and call things what they are, hence the reference to “white privilege”.  But while I whole-heartedly agree with everything she says I nevertheless have some reservations about calling it “white privilege”.

My reason: calling it that will do nothing to foster the discussion on race, a discussion, by the way, that we still sorely need to have today.  Instead, doing so will cause individuals-the ones needed in the debate and our fellow Americans-to shut down and be hostile and unsympathetic to the historic struggles of African and other minority Americans.

Moreover, I don’t want to get stuck attempting to prove that people should be taking some “privilege” that they may or may not agree that they have in the first place.  I’d rather concern myself with the bad behavior that certain ones exhibit and put all efforts in making everyone realize the harm such behavior causes and the responsibility each of us has to ensure that it stops.  So, if we have to call it something, rather than calling it privilege, white or otherwise, let’s call it protocol, instead.

Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines privilege as a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage or favor; or, such a right or immunity attached to a particular office or position.  It’s also referred to as freedom, license or opportunity.

In contrast, protocol is a code prescribing strict adherence to correct etiquette and precedence.  It’s also manners, decorum, rules and code of behavior.

For my POV, protocol is proper etiquette and a decent manner of treating your fellowman.  It deals with specific behavior.  Protocol evokes the golden rule-Do unto others as you would have them do unto you-and emphasizes every man’s accountability towards his peers.

Still, there’s no guarantee that changing the name will lighten the argument sufficiently enough to make the truth go down any easier.  Besides that, both words fit the circumstances, albeit one is a tad bit more in your face than the other.

Using one over the other will hopefully allow enough of the message to get through to make some real moves towards at least starting an open, honest and civil discussion.  Like that spoonful of sugar, it could help the medicine of reconciliation go down a little easier.

Video content from UPWORTHY/Rafael Casal

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