White Privilege + Television

white privilege and television

Rachel blogged recently about “Why There is a BET and There isn’t a WET“.

Nearly every semester, I get this comment, “Professor, why is there a Black Entertainment Television when there is no White Entertainment Television? They would say it is racist if we had WET, so why can they have BET?” There are other variants of this question, such as: “Why are there historically black colleges and not historically white colleges?” “Why is there an NAACP and no NAAWP?” “Why is there a minority scholarship, but no white scholarship?” “Why is there an Asian/Black/Latino student’s center and no White student’s center?”

It’s a great post and it reminds me of a discussion that occurred in one of my graduate school classes (If you read this and were in the class, do you remember what happened too?).

We started talking about television and someone mentioned how the majority of television programming was geared towards white people. One of my classmates baulked at this premise and said something about BET. I think I asked him something about whether or not he had had difficulty finding white people on television during his adolescence.

In her post, Rachel writes that “many whites don’t notice whiteness.” I think this was a pretty good example of a white person who was not aware of the norming of whiteness. In fact, this is #6 on the white privilege list by Peggy McIntosh.