An Open Letter And History Lesson For Stacey Dash

Stacey Dash, haunting your dreams since 1995. Courtesy of Facebook

Stacey Dash, haunting your dreams since 1995. Courtesy of Facebook

Acknowledging white privilege is about honoring the real history of this country and accepting your own humanity.  One Fox anchor has some work to do.

Dear Stacey Dash,

I loved you in Clueless. And that VH1 vehicle—Single Ladies—that you starred in? My love for you (or maybe it was for Dionne) made me watch it. Because of this, your recent, ill-informed statements about race in America cut a little bit deeper than say Raven Symone’s or Pharell’s. There’s an excellent Rod Stewart joke I could insert here, although while I write this I’m not exactly in mood for levity.

This isn’t the first time you’ve messed up, but your recent offense is so egregious that I will momentarily cast your past gaffes to the side. This includes your endorsement of Mitt Romney in 2012 (it’s not like Barack was a perfect candidate and I don’t expect people to vote solely out of racial affinity even though black Republicans are particularly confusing to me). Allow me to recap what it is you said and did that has me in such a twist.

Your work for Fox News (already problematic) led to an appearance alongside Bill O’Reilly (don’t get me started) where the topic was white privilege.

White privilege in and of itself has only been a topic of open discussion in the mainstream media in the last few years, and even so it remains incredibly sensitive. Conversation surrounding white privilege has either been so neutered as to be meaningless or  has subsequently drawn the defensive ire of (usually) old, white men like O’Reilly. Neither of these types of discussion helps to move America forward intellectually and they certainly don’t produce any tangible benefit for people of color in this country.

Enter you, Stacey Dash. When asked in so many words if you felt like you had ever been a victim of white privilege you responded by saying,

“No, I don’t…all we have to do is walk in the opportunity. What has to happen is the disenfranchised and the uninformed need to be educated.”

Well Ms. Dash, it’s because of white privilege that the disenfranchised men, women, and children you mention find themselves on the margins of American society and prosperity. White privilege isn’t just some ephemeral construct created to showcase O’Reilly’s buffoonery. Nor is it a brand of leftist propaganda.  White privilege—like male privilege and economic privilege—is all too real.  

To be clear, because it seems like you are very confused, acknowledging white privilege doesn’t turn you into some kind of reverse racist  (that’s not a real thing, as Aamer Rahman deftly and hilarious explained). It doesn’t mean you can’t have white friends or partners. All recognizing white privilege really means is that you understand history and basic math.  

Even a cursory glance at American history will reveal how non-whites have been purposefully disadvantaged (by voting laws, lack of property rights, denial of basic human rights). And If you bothered to dig a little deeper, you’d learn that groups like the Irish and Italians—who were once considered non-white and one of whom Bill O’Reilly claims kinship with—were also victims of white privilege.

With the passing of time, however, these groups have managed to assimilate and experience many of the benefits that white privilege affords. People that look like you and me, however, have not been so fortunate.  Neither have millions of darker-skinned black Americans, Hispanics, Asian, native communities or any combination thereof. Our earning potential is lower, the air we breathe isn’t as clean, we aren’t close to being proportionally represented in government, and the list goes on.  

You may have walked into opportunity early and easily, but millions of Americans before and after you haven’t and won’t if we continue paying credence to you and your cronies at Fox. Without a nuanced, patient, and inclusive discussion about race to inform our values and laws we’ll all end up completely —apologies ahead of time—clueless. And that’s a risk we can’t afford to take.  

Good luck, 
Zoë Middleton


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