The thing about noblesse oblige is that guilty rich people can allay some of their guilt by giving money to charity, or starting foundations, or advocating redistributive policies such as the "Buffett Rule."
But what redress exists to ease the burden of white guilt? To the chagrin of a group calling themselves the "Un-Fair Campaign", sponsored by the University of Minnesota — Duluth, it's simply not possible to transfer one's own whiteness to those whom the cosmos cursed at birth with the affliction of a higher concentration of melanin. So the Un-Fair Campaign's solution? Confessing their guilt upon their faces with black Sharpie.
In the video, we white folks learn that we're "privileged" to be white, "privileged that people see us and not a color", "privileged that we don't get stared at when we walk into a room," and "privileged that society was set up for us." (What does it mean for a society to be "set up", anyhow?)
The problem with this approach is that those decrying how wrong it is to see a color instead of a person are the very ones insisting on labeling themselves and others (with a Sharpie, no less!) by color. As one student at UMD wrote in response to the campaign, "It may be drawing awareness to factors that we might otherwise not pay attention to, but it's creating a gap between people. It's only making people more racist on both sides."
Update: A senior at UMD (and sibling of a Ricochet Member) sent me the following note:
The Unfair Campaign has [a] feel that I think is off-putting. I'm interested in hearing what they have to say, but when I read into their reasoning, I feel as though I am being accused of actively perpetuating a problem simply because I am white. Perhaps there is a conversation worth having [about racism], but placing it in the context of ‘dismantling white privilege’ is frankly demotivating.
I would be more interested in building underrepresented people up than deconstructing ‘over privilege.’ I hesitate to get involved in the conversation at all for fear that my skepticism that ‘white privilege’ is the problem will be misconstrued as racism. I believe I am not alone in that fear. This is a sensitive subject and the current framing of it is polarizing.