'White privilege' is the biggest white lie of all

'White privilege' is the biggest white lie of all
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Here is an undeniable truth: Those in positions of power can deny others opportunity and create devastation in other people’s lives. Slavery and the legacy of Jim Crow are pernicious and painful examples. Human history is troubling, filled with bloodshed and bigotry that has caused unspeakable harm. But in the end, we must get away from poisonous groupthink, because the ideology and actions of individuals matter more.   

So, which factors determine the path a person takes? Is success a product of grit, the ability to persevere despite obstacles, and a dogged determination to succeed? 

Is achieving a high station in life related at all to the people with whom you choose to surround yourself, who influence you and either encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and reach for the stars or allow you to languish in a miserable environment lacking drive?

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Are accomplishments motivated by faith, which can inspire you and push you day in, day out to become a better person? Or, are our lives and all that happens to us just predetermined by the color of your skin? 

According to Oprah Winfrey, if a person is white, no matter where they come from or what challenges they have faced, they have it good. According to her view, white people continue to get ahead simply through the good fortune of having been born to white parents. This “white privilege,” she purports, has made it possible for white people to rise above minorities, providing them with an extra boost. And there they stay, even today.

According to this flawed narrative and warped perspective, personal histories don’t matter. Character counts for nothing. Individual circumstances and individual responsibility are inconsequential.

This is far too simplistic a way to look at our world. Moreover, it is blatantly wrong. There are many potential influences that can have a real impact on a person. In the greater scheme of things, skin color is among the least relevant when it comes to predicting a person’s future success.

Economic status, for example, is a far more important determinant. Whether we like it or not, money is truly the great equalizer and enabler in this world. Those with the privilege of financial security certainly have significant advantages over those without. This indisputable fact remains true regardless of the color of your skin. 

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Your family, your friends and your environment all play huge roles in lifting you up or tearing you down. Even the nation in which you are born is a bigger contributing factor than skin color. I was blessed to have been born in the United States of America, and every day I continue to reap the benefits of citizenry in the most free and advanced nation the world has ever seen. Every day, I am grateful to be part of the fabric of this great country. 

My identity as an American — not as an African American, white American or any other American qualified with an unnecessary modifier — is what provides me with limitless opportunities. Carrying a U.S. passport is a far bigger determinant of my station in life than my alleged lack of “white privilege.” 

Blaming it all on race is a blatant lie — let’s call it the biggest white lie of all. The American Dream remains alive. That is true no matter what you look like, provided you are willing to work to achieve your goals and aspirations. These days, it seems as if everyone prefers to make excuses rather than dedicate themselves to doing what it takes to succeed. To fall back upon your “blackness” is taking the easy way out — and a shameful excuse. Enough with the cries of woe and the sermonizing from Black folks who actually have proven that dreams can come true in this country. 

Success is about the strength of your character, not the color of your skin. Success is much more dependent upon who you are, what you prioritize, and the relentless pursuit of excellence than the amount of melanin in your skin. 

Across America, liberals continue wringing their hands and trying to blame all of society’s ills on racism. Racism is real, but it simply cannot be blamed for everything. By pointing to blackness as the source of failure, we allow people clinging to the bottom rungs of our society to wallow there. Instead, we need to remind them that life is what you make it and give them a push up that career and life ladder. 

In the end, you reach your potential through grace, not race. It takes commitment and a willingness to work hard.

To excuse mediocrity and pile the blame atop some obscure notion of “white privilege” does Black people no favors. On the contrary, if we tell that to our kids, we incentivize mediocrity because what is the point of trying to excel if millions of us are doomed from the start?

With all due respect to Oprah, she and others who share her view should stop doing a disservice by belittling and devaluing the accomplishments of people by linking fate to skin color. The building blocks of success come in many colors, not just black and white.

Armstrong Williams (@ARightSide) is the owner and manager of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the Year. He is the author of “Reawakening Virtues.”