The biggest stumbling block for white people is the defensive reaction to the concept of privilege. When I first started hearing the term, I bristled because I thought someone was trying to say that my life must be easy and I never had to work for anything because of the color of my skin.
Please don’t try to speak for all white people. I am technically white (although the headscarf puts me into a different category), and have always identified as such. The headscarf didn’t go on until I was well into my adult years.
When I first heard the concept of privilege broached, my reaction was more like “Well, obviously.” It was a statement of the blatantly obvious. And although this is not a topic that we on the conservative side of the ledger discuss very much, there seem to be no shortage of people on this “side” that took it the same way I did.
I believe the key to getting white America on board with social justice is to highlight the challenges that everyone faces, then emphasize how much greater those challenges are for the non-privileged.
Everyone is already on board with “social justice”. The debate is over the methods by which we eliminate social disparities, not that social disparities exist.
There are a substantial percentage who still won’t come around, either because they are racist, labor under the delusion that privilege is a zero-sum game and think they will lose out if it is extended to everyone, or are just intellectually lazy and want excuses not to have to learn, but I do think that most of white America is teachable.
I’m not sure how you are defining “substantial”, but from data we find in long-running surveys like the General Social Survey, we find that actual, overt racism in the US (e.g., the number of people who truly believe that white is superior to black) is pretty small, and we can take an educated guess regarding the age of that demographic.
Thus, the problem is not the “racists”; there aren’t that many of them and they’re not hiring anyone these days anyway, from the most part. The problem is economic exacerbated by education exacerbated by the fact that most of us find jobs through contacts.
Put another way: respect in society is based on a lot of things, but one of the larger elements is income. In order to get more income, you need education, and you benefit if you have a contact network that can help you find that good paying job.
If you’re a statistically typical minority in America, you’re being educated in a crappy school that the “Educational Establishment” won’t let anyone fix; if you leap that hurdle, you don’t have easy access to money for higher education; if you leap that hurdle, you go into the job market without a network or mentors.
That’s what a systemic problem looks like. And the nice thing about that problem is that it’s tangible, quantitative, and therefore solvable, IF the right policies get put into place.
But, we don’t put the right policies in place. :-(