“The phrase ‘Free, white, and 21’ appeared in dozens of movies in the ‘30s and ‘40s, a proud assertion that positioned white privilege as the ultimate argument-stopper. It was a catchphrase of the decade, as blandly ubiquitous as any modern meme: a way for white America to check its own privilege and feel exhilarated rather than finding fault. Read more about the history of the phrase here.”
I found this glimpse into the American past as startling, even if it shouldn’t be. It jarred me because today many in America bristle or are startled at the notion that ‘white privilege’ exists today even if there are countless examples that we do not live in a post-racial society. This glimpse of old-school Hollywood shows how asserting white privilege was common place in the lexicon–equally fascinating is how we’ve pretended that it never was. White privilege is no longer flouted in polite company like it once was, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t real.