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  • William Zakee McGill

Cohen's off base, provides no supporting data

Adriana Cohen is way off base in her column in the Journal from June 7th. She writes that there “aren’t unique ‘privileges’ afforded to white parents” versus Black parents dealing with our recent shortage of baby formula but she provides us with no data to back up this claim. It is true, however, and this is data easy to find on line, that 31% of White people live in an area with a supermarket compared to 8% of Black people. So, it’s possible that Black families ARE having more trouble obtaining formula than White families.

She also uses school shootings as an argument that there is no such thing as White privilege because White children are killed often in school shootings. She writes “Since 1999, there have been 14 mass shootings at US school that have killed 169 victims.” School shootings are terrible of course but, in 2020, we lost over 4000 children and teens from gun violence overall. That’s in ONE year. And the rate of deaths for Blacks was four times the rate for Whites. Also, though Black children make up 16.6% of students in our schools, they represent 33% of children who have experienced a school shooting. That is data I found in five minutes that Adriana could have looked up but didn’t.

She then mentions the mental health crisis and contends that “white citizens are not exempt from these challenges nor are they receiving ‘privileges’ in getting appointments…” Again, she cites no data but I guess she must have missed seeing data online which show that, among people with a mental health diagnosis, 37.6% of White people but only 25% of Black people had access to services. Either is terrible, but more so for Black people.

Adrian doesn’t like the notion of “white privilege” and her three thin examples are proposed, really without much data, as evidence that it doesn’t exist. OK Adriana, if you don’t like “white privilege”, let’s talk about racial inequity in our country. We could talk about infant mortality (twice as high in Black babies as White babies) or we could talk about having to use public transportation (2.4 times higher in Blacks than Whites), or percent of people searched during a routine traffic stop in North Carolina (twice as high for Blacks than Whites) or breast cancer mortality (41% higher in Blacks) or family wealth (ten times greater for Whites than Blacks). That’s $171,000 versus $17,000 in 2016. There are many more examples, easy to find online.

Ms. Cohen goes on about the notion of “white privilege” as a “culturally corrosive narrative.” What is really corrosive, however, is her unwillingness to face the facts. We have a big problem with racial inequity in this country, call if what you will, and if we don’t start doing more to correct it, we will all suffer, though Blacks will suffer more.

Let me add that including Adriana Cohen as a regular columnist in the Journal does a disservice to the paper and its readership. I don’t say this because I disagree with her but because she seems to have no intention of doing the research necessary to back up her poorly thought-out notions. Surely the Journal can afford someone more thoughtful. Please drop her.

This op ed was published in The Martinsburg Journal, June 11, 2022

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