Madden NFL & White Privilege

Madden NFL & White Privilege
M.D. Wright

Well, since Madden 25 is dropping in a couple of weeks, and the NFL season is upon us, I feel that it is fitting to pull an analogy out of my hindparts after hearing some foolishness in the past few weeks about this supposed “fallacy” that is “White Privilege.” First of all, let’s just tackle the fact that empathy and SYMPATHY are not interchangeable terms. Empathy is a feeling of compassion and a sense of shared experience from the same perspective. Sympathy is a genuine sentiment; an expression of compassion, but from a perspective that is not akin to that of the person unto whom the sympathy is given. In other words, a person can be sympathetic toward a cause or a plight, but without the same perspective and experiences, they can never fully understand what the experience is like — even if they were to endure it themselves — because the perspectives will always be different.

Such is the case when I hear some — not all, not even the majority, but SOMEWhite people ramble on and on about White Privilege. Does it exist at all? If so, to what extent? To what do we attribute this? How do we fix this (xenophobia and other traits that we all possess)? The majority of these sociologists and psychologists are dead on with the peripheral facts. However, many of them miss the mark when it comes to the core issue: the birth of White Privilege itself. By social construct, a great deal of our ills, as relates to race, stem from the hierarchical racial structure that exists worldwide. Most of us do not like that this is so, but the facts are palpable for those who care to evaluate. White Privilege not only shields Whites from experiencing some of the setbacks and obstacles that Blacks, Latinos, and, to a lesser extent, Asian people, when they encounter certain things in life — ranging from employment issues, housing discrimination, acquiring loans for homes and businesses, and the like. Some are acutely aware that these inherent biases exist. Some are obtusely unaware, and even others are aware and ambivalent, hoping that the discussion of the matter would simply disappear altogether.

I am not here to define White Privilege, because I believe that most adults possess at least a semblance of understanding regarding what the term entails. This is not to attack or demonize White people (especially not those who do indeed understand how this phenomenon works), but it is designed to draw attention to the difference in perspectives.

For instance, take how affirmative action — a mess of legislation that has incidentally done some of what it was intended — has only further deepening the problems that existed before the law passed 35 years ago. You hear screams of “reverse discrimination” (or worse yet, in private, while putting a front in public, as if the sentiment is not expressed in the dark). While that is one of the foul drawbacks of affirmative action, (and the potential drawback of any government-enforced policy, for that matter), it is a tertiary “problem” by comparison, because White Privilege often erases a great deal of ills erstwhile in other arenas of life.

Now look at how affirmative action has created certain mentalities between every possible racial, ethnic, religious and age group within a workplace setting. This is something that I have observed (as I have always been highly observant and perceptive) for many years, in every work environment that I have shared:

The uproar about affirmative action has spurred more antagonistic responses from those who it was designed to “help”, rather than the few who were disenfranchised on the back end. That’s the irony of it all; women — especially Black women — are behind more 8 balls than Minnesota Fats ever was, off the bat. Then you get into all the benefits and drawbacks of affirmative action. Furthermore, you look at it from without, instead of from within, and you see the trend now, where more Black women are going to college than Black men, and hired within companies (including more so in positions of power) than Black men, yet the commonly-held thought is that this is so because “women, in general, are a lot less threatening than any man, PARTICULARLY, an educated Black man with experience.” However, as you reasserted here, you have to be a bulldog with EVERYONE, not just other women, to get and maintain a job.

There are so many labyrinths and matrices to maneuver through if you are a woman, and a couple more if you are a Black woman… if not a few MORE if you don’t pass the “bag test.” It’s part of the ugly underbelly of it all. One misstep and you could be ruined for years, if not for life, in some arenas. Therein lies the conundrum for some women, while the divergence of paths is present to the third party. There are so many contradictions within the previous paragraph, but those are the types of diametrically opposed scenarios that are the spinoff of White Privilege, and how this sentiment cannot be shared by those who are White — no matter how well they understand the phenomenon. Even as a man, I cannot TRULY share the same sentiment and perspective of this type of scenario that women face, because I never have, am not, and never will be a woman.

Ultimately, I see parallels between White Privilege and playing Madden NFL with a team full of “99” players. The catch being that you uploaded your custom-made team of otherworldly “99” level players without your opponent’s knowledge, while they play with a team with an “Overall” of 83. They believe they are on a level playing field when they see you choose a team with a similar 83 overall on the DEFAULT settings, but are unawares that your team stocked with All-World players now pushes your team to overall “97” and everything is easy for them, even the parts that require skill, ability, and true hard work, are “easy” by comparison to the person playing with the “83” overall, as they have to overcome many more obstacles just to reach the end zone. Such is the way that White Privilege plays out when you have someone who is ambivalent or unawares of the benefits of White Privilege (if they are White), while the person who is playing with the “83” overall team is non-White, and is told to “work harder” or “stop complaining and sack up” whenever the advantages of the “97” overall team put the “83” overall team at a competitive disadvantage.

Once again, this is not a demonizing act; for many who are White and are aware that White Privilege exists do not propagate the negative underbelly of it all. But what those who are White and wax sociological about the social landscape, while omitting the role of White Privilege, are akin to someone who plays with the “97” overall team, speaking to those who have the “83” overall team.

You think you know, but you really don’t know. And you never will.

Madden '99


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