LeBron James, Dennis Byrne and the acknowledgement of white privilege in America

LeBron James, Dennis Byrne and the acknowledgement of white privilege in America

LeBron James is richer, more famous and arguably better looking than Dennis Byrne. You almost assuredly know LeBron, you've probably never heard of Byrne.

James also knows something that Byrne seems obsessed with denying; being born white in America is a good thing. You can try to make sense of Byrne's denial in No, I will not acknowledge my '"white privilege"

I often wonder about my own life, how random events defined my choices and their outcomes.  As chance would have it, I was born a Jewish, white male in Chicago in the 1950's.

Considering the variety of alternatives, life dealt me a pretty sweet hand, none of it my own doing.  Life happened to me in the same way that most of my hair has remained on my head and has yet to turn gray.

It just happened.

Just living in Chicago and a chance lunch led me to a career that provided for me and my family in way that would not have been possible had I been born in Fargo, North Dakota.

Neither would it have been possible if I had been born black. When I began my career, there were no black people in positions to which I would have aspired. That's just a fact.

I can't even imagine what it would have been like to have been born black in Tupelo, Mississippi.

I think that anyone who tells you that being black is just as good as being white is either a liar, an idiot or a Republican.  Possibly all three.

By and large our lives are based on the circumstances of our birth.  The last two Supreme Court nominees went to Georgetown Preparatory school.

We can point to those who have beaten the odds and risen above what expectations might have been for them, but those would be the exceptions to and not disproof of the rule.

Is Barack Obama a realistic role model for the majority of black youth, especially in America's current toxic atmosphere?

Bringing racism out of the closet is a campaign promise that Donald Trump had no problem keeping.  One group that got exactly what they were hoping for when they voted for Captain Bone Spurs comprises racists, Nazis and KKK assholes.

These folks knew who they were voting for and they are gleeful with the results. In Donald Trump they found a kindred spirit.

In today's America, famous and rich LeBron James had to sit down with his kids and have "the talk," a task crucial to the very survival of black youth.

We all tell our kids to be respectful to police, but we white people have no expectation that our kids' confrontations with law enforcement will be life threatening.

That, Dennis Byrne, is where "whiteness" has a life or death impact.  We can jaywalk, drive with a broken tail light or just stand on a street corner gazing at the stars without fear of an existential crisis.


A few years back, I had an incident that involved a brief detainment in the back of a police car and handcuffs.  At no time was I in fear for my life and I believe that I have my whiteness to thank for that.

In "Black people would be a lot happier if they could just be more Jewish" I describe an unexpected confrontation with dear friends who share Byrne's rejection of the existence of white privilege.

Being born white in America is like winning the racial lottery.  Do you know anyone who would rip up that ticket?

There's a saying in the military that rank has its privilege.

Being born white is like going into the Army as a commissioned officer.  Would Dennis Byrne rather be a buck private?

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