White Privilege at Work: Andrew Speaker & Paris Hilton

This may become a weekly series if I can find enough examples in the news, although we all know the world is full of them. This week: Andrew Speaker and Paris Hilton.

Meet Andrew Speaker. A Lawyer from Atlanta. Contracts a form of tuberculosis called XDR (extremely drug resistant). Not regular TB. Not MDR (multi drug resistant) TB. He did not have active TB, which meant he wasn’t (at least at the time of his test) contagious. Speaker flies all over the world, and comes back into the US from Canada. Even though he had paperwork showing he had Durg resistant TB, an agent let him come across the border, anyhow, saying he didn’t look sick.

I remember coming across back into the US from Canada on a high school class field trip in 1992 (pre-911, mind you). All of the Black, Latino, and Asian kids were asked more than once where we were from, and what was our business in Canada. The benefits of being white–although looking at his wife Sarah (above), his white skin is not-so-reassuring to her, anyway…

Meet Paris Hilton. A socialite and heiress from Hollywood. Paris was supposed to serve 23 days in jail, had a “medical condition” and was “re-assigned” to her home after only serving 3 days.

A few years ago, The Nation reported on a government document that detailed the status of prison/jail health. It stated

…more than 18 percent of hepatitis C virus (HCV) carriers in the country pass through the jail or prison system annually, as do 8 percent of those with HIV and one-third of those with active tuberculosis (TB). Six percent of incoming inmates, according to the report, show evidence of recent syphilis infection, 6 percent have chlamydia and up to 4 percent have gonorrhea. Experts believe that for these diseases, the infection rates (the number of cases per 100,000) among prisoners are upward of ten times those found in the American population as a whole.

How is Paris, with a medical condition, any different from the numbers of prisoners in the US who have medical conditions, anc can barely get a doctor, let alone be sent home? The privileges of being white.

2 thoughts on “White Privilege at Work: Andrew Speaker & Paris Hilton

  1. How is Paris any different from the numbers of prisoners? The same way O.J. Simpson is different. Why did 12 black jurors find O.J. Simpson not guilty of double first degree murder? Why? Because O.J. Simpson is black. Why was O.J. Simpson acquitted? Because O.J. Simpson is black. Who is different now? The privileges of being black.

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