Skin privilege is largely a myth peddled by those who are made uncomfortable by the idea of class privilege. It ain’t about skin, it’s about class. It ain’t epidermal, it’s hierarchical. Sociologist Max Weber once defined “class” as “chances on the market.”
Almost everyone except politicians and rich schmucks realize that we don’t all hurtle out of the bleeding womb with an equal chance. Not everyone is born with an equal chance to avoid dehumanizing labor. Not everyone is equally likely to dodge military service. We aren’t all born into neighborhoods equally free from crime. Not everyone has an equal shot at going to college. We can’t all expect to face equal occupational and environmental hazard. Not everyone inherits equal of land or money his or her parents.
The sheltered, pampered, weakened, atrophied, protected kids who never HAD to work to survive won’t have the remotest clue what I’m blathering about. To them, working-class anger always seems dumb, violent, and – beyond all else- groundless.
About three A.M. every morning, I rip myself from sleep like a fetus aborting itself. Sometimes I have to smack myself in the face to assure I won’t nod of again. Another ephedrine tablet, another mugful of shit-thick coffe. My ass squirt blood from all the speed variants I imbibe to stay awake and work. I’m often such a fatigued dishrag, I’ll just stare at my notes for hours.
But I can’t afford to close my eyelids. I’ll try to write until around seven, when me and the missus get ready for work. She’s a typist In a steel mill. I do pre-press work in a print shop. In the early evening, I try to squeeze a few more written words out of myself before I drop. And then I instinctually awake myself again at three A.M. I’m pulling two full-time shifts, just like the old man did. If I didn’t work a day job, I’d starve. And if I didn’t write at night, I’d die.
Redneck psychology is best understood by exploring labor history, not racial theory. Amid all the cream-puff rhetoric about racial equality, we’ve entirely lost sight of economic equality. TV talking heads keep yippie-yi-yo-ing about racial injustice, but the fact that there are rich people and poor people is accepted without question. While all the “white” and “colored” drinking fountains may have been removed, there remain thousands of restaurants and nightclubs and golf courses and gated neighborhoods where working-class chumps of any color wouldn’t be welcome. As things stand, its blasphemous to exclude someone from your neighborhood based on any color but green.
Today, the person who proposes economic equality is held to be as nutty as someone who believes in racial inequality. Its swallowed as an article of faith that we just couldn’t survive without bosses and workers, without investors and the bloc of human capital in which they invest. We can imagine a world without Nazis, but not a world without bosses.