Walter Williams speaks with astonishing recklessness with language in his Oct. 7 essay “Language and Thought.” He is a quibbler, not a clarifier, with language.
In addressing “white privilege,” he nitpicks about poor whites and highly educated Nigerians and misses the concept entirely. We know that white privilege is based on attitudes and statistics. Even the impoverished white person will assume a higher privilege than the Black citizen because of race. Statistically we know that Black citizens fall disproportionately into a lower income bracket than white citizens, not to mention the under-insured for health costs and over-represented for deaths by COVID-19.
With regard to the economy built on the backs of slavery, the processing of cotton and tobacco was the basis for Southern prosperity in the 19th century. The success of northern industry built on manufactured products had no bearing on the wealth generated by slavery in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The South bred African slaves for labor and multiplied their enslaved workforce before the Civil War. Mr. Williams argues that we cannot expect all sports or arts participation to be proportionally represented by race. Fair enough, but what about the lack of Black citizens in teaching, in the legal professions, in government, where their presence really matters?
Mr. Williams likes to quibble with exceptions with regard to race, but he misses the point that representation matters when it comes to health, education and representative government.