Privilege: Blurred lines between White and Asian privilege

November 21, 2013 6:29 pm2 commentsViews: 65

White privilege, often unacknowledged or ignored, represents benefits or privileges from society experienced by people classified as White, versus those who are not. Common examples of white privilege include the ability to walk into a grocery store without getting followed in fear that they might commit theft, or the ability to get a job or get accepted to a school without having their qualifications questioned due to certain diversity quotas that need to be met.

However, these “privileges” are not unique to white people. Oftentimes Asians, particularly Eastern Asians, receive the exact same benefits. In fact, the majority of science/math internships no longer consider Eastern Asians to be part of the underrepresented or minority group.

But while there are a multitude of differences and similarities between the groups, there is one aspect of white privilege an Asian could never experience – the ability to completely be one’s own person.

When a person looks at a white girl, that girl is simply seen as a girl. If she is good at math, she is seen as simply a girl who is good at math. If she is good at art, she is seen as just a girl who is good at art. But an Asian girl, or a girl of any other race, could never be seen as just a girl. She will always be seen as an Asian girl, burdened by and identified with the connotations and stereotypes that follow her. She will never be a girl who is good at math, but instead an Asian girl who is good at math, “most likely because she is Asian.” She will never be a girl who is good at art, but instead, an Asian girl who is good at art, “because Asians are good at art,” not because of her own talent.

While race is an enormous part of one’s identity, it does not define every aspect of a person’s being. White privilege gives people the ability to define the rest of their identity, while everyone else is stuck being depicted by their pre-determined identities, regardless of the truth-value to those stereotypes. It allows people to completely be defined by their own actions/abilities – a basic right deserved by all.



  • Whites also grapple with being viewed as individuals. Obama’s perceived as the “first black president” instead of the first “half-white” or “multiracial” one, Eminem sheds his “whiteness” to sell records, Maggie Q simplifies her name to appeal to an Asian audience, etc.

    Privilege is relative, depending on said environment.

    I do, however, concur with the idea of “whiteness” as socially normative.

  • *cultural whiteness