White Privilege in the Federal Government

White privilege dominates the federal government. This condition gives White people tremendous advantage in a bureaucracy that rewards connection, uniformity and the status quo. In workplace environments controlled by a homogeneous group of people, confirmation and experience bias take root as members gravitate toward associates who look like them, talk like them and act like them.

According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), a member of the White Privilege Club with a White representation rate of 66%, the entire federal government is drowning in a sea of White privilege with an apartheid-like composition of 65% White. This White privilege does not end with overall representation.

Not only are Whites the largest racial group in the federal government, they also dominate the following work-related categories:

• Professional Occupations-72%.
• Administrative Positions-66%.
• Blue Collar Jobs-65%
• White Collar Jobs-65%.

To add insult to injury, the OPM bases the bulk of their definition of what makes the best place to work in federal government an exercise in White privilege. Their selection of the following offices in 2015 as the best places to work in the federal government all share an average White composition rate of 71%. Congratulations to the Federal Trade Commission, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Office of Management Budget, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for carrying on the legacy of White privilege.

To show how White privilege is passed on to the next generation, of the ten most Millennial friendly agencies in the federal government, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, National Aeronautic and Space Administration, Federal Trade Commission, Department of Commerce, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Office of Personnel Management, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of State, Department of Treasury and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, they have an average white representation rate of 64%.

While the federal space holds on to this “white is right” notion of a government that only works for White people, the world around us seems to be sending a different message.

Look what is happening in places outside of White privilege zip codes:

• The most diverse generation, Millennials, overtook their Baby Boomers parents as the largest generation in the country.
• The first African-American President still resides in the White House.
• Our country became the second largest Spanish speaking nation in the world, second only to Mexico.
• 81% of taxpayers do not feel like the services we provide benefit everyone equally.
• Mixed raced citizens make up nearly 7% of the adult population and are growing 3 times as fast as the population as a whole.

What a benefit it is to be White in the federal government. As Peggy McIntosh, a White woman who defined “privilege” in 1993 opined:

• White people can walk around their cubicles and take advantage of an invisible package of unearned assets of which they can count on cashing in each day but remain totally clueless about.
• They can benefit from a status that proclaims “I hit a triple and I am on third base before people of color even get into the batter’s box.”
• They not only accrue certain assets due to their privilege, they also accumulate certain exemptions as individuals and as a group beyond the reach of other subordinate groups.

What a revelation. A federal government hides behind the myth of equal representation and protection of all. It is a notion not lost on people of color who know in the long run that we will never sit at the head of the federal table like our White brothers and sisters. In the meantime, we will be satisfied to eat the crumbs that fall on the floor from the White privilege table.

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