When You Reek of White Privilege…

… and you pretend not to smell it.

I try not to get too caught up in the “celebrity” self-help gurus that have 100 books out and make you feel compelled to buy each one. But this past Labor Day I popped into my local Barnes and Noble and came across some John Maxwell books in the Bargain section. He’s one of those people who’ll have at least 50 of his titles in a BN store at a time. So I’m like for $6.98, I can see what the hype is all about. One of the books I picked up was “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn”. I began reading the introduction and he told this ridiculous story that I’ll summarize for you. Nonetheless, it is a TRUE story:

One of the books I picked up was “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn”. I began reading the introduction and he told this ridiculous story that I’ll summarize for you. Nonetheless, it is a TRUE story:

A friend/supporter/fan gave him a GUN as a gift. He tosses the gun in his travel bags. Days later when he’s set to travel he goes to the airport, gets to TSA, puts the damn bag on the conveyor belt, THEN remembers the gun is in there. So what does smarty pants do? Yell at the top of his lungs, “There’s a gun in there!”. At this moment reading I’m weak at how ridiculous this story is but then I’m like ehh.. white man “accidentally” carrying a gun, this bout to be some bull. Of course while narrating he’s all like, everyone who works there knows me because I fly so often, but they sadly tell me they have to follow protocol. He’s arrested. Carried to the back for questioning. I don’t remember who questions him but apparently like 20 minutes after a serious questioning, he becomes warm and friendly and tells Maxwell that if he knew he was coming he would have brought books for him to sign.

giphy (28)Not even with my wildest imagination could I make this up. To make the story even richer, not only were charges dropped, but the whole thing was EXPUNGED.

I didn’t make it a paragraph beyond that story. I didn’t buy the book.


I did end up buying another book of his called Jumpstart Your Thinking. It has daily reflections for a 90 day period on essentially learning to change your thinking to achieve goals, yadda yadda. I decided to get it because I’m currently on that type of journey. When I finally opened it I started reading the introduction after and read this: “What is one thing that separates those who go to the top from those who never seem to get there? The answer is not that some people get better opportunities and better education or that some people are just lazy and had bad breaks. The answer is: Good Thinking!”

And I’m just like, ciswhiteman, please.

That’s when it became real clear to be that this man has clearly made his millions telling white people it’s okay to white and oblivious, that we all start from the bottom and he has the keys to bring you from zero (even if zero is a trust fund you were born into) to hero. And I’m sure he’s told some Ben Carsons and Herman Cains that thinking themselves successful is the reason for their success.

Basically, I’m not here for it. What I do know is that at best, it’s gross negligence to suggest that people do not get ahead because they’ve been born into monetary privilege, skin privilege, educational privilege, etc. It’s irresponsible to suggest that you can’t be held back for the opposite of those reasons. I know we tryna sell books, but Sis. “Jumpstart Your Thinking” is cool for when you’ve flunked out of college and have to move back into your parents’ home with no prospects. You know, the home with the butlers and the personal chef. Sometimes you “learn” and sometimes the lesson devours you and now you’re stuck in the system for fitting a description. And even 20 years later when they find DNA evidence but not the real criminal they release you but you still can’t get your record expunged. Or maybe you’re a Sandra Bland now because you dared to have a bad day and call a cop out for further irritating you.

But I’m not here to preach that he needs to be more responsible. That’s a dead horse. But it was a reminder that we need to be careful of whose doctrine we take in. That said, I’ve been trying to get into reading more self-help books by black authors and I’m looking for more suggestions. I know all our politics aren’t the same but some social responsibility is more likely to be accounted for. A few of my suggestions:

  • Girl, Get Your Credit Straight!: A Sister’s Guide to Ditching Your Debt, Mending Your Credit, and Building a Strong Financial Future – Glinda Bridgforth
  • Girl, Get Your Money Straight: A Sister’s Guide to Healing Your Bank Account and Funding Your Dreams in 7 Simple Steps – Glinda Bridgforth
  • Exponential Living: Stop Spending 100% of Your Time on 10% of Who You Are
  • In the Meantime: Finding Yourself and the Love You Want – Iyanla Vanzant




11 thoughts on “When You Reek of White Privilege…

  1. First off I love this post.
    Secondly, thank you for your suggestions because I’ve been looking exactly for that!✊🏾
    THIRDLY, he’s lying about his experience at the airport with the gun sis. Trust me lol. .. I wear the color blue for a living and it’s no way he got it EXPUNGED. That’s a state charge and the state don’t care who you are. Best believe he faced a penalty for bringing a firearm “accidentally” through checkpoint.

  2. Wow! I can’t believe he started a book off like that. Talk about an attention grabber and honestly I feel as if he was slightly bragging. Nonetheless, I plan to check out your book suggestions. I love those self help, self improvement books.

    • You’re right. In hindsight it was for sure an attention grabber. And if came across braggy because the results were just so crazy. Like we all know that’s not normal lol. Hope you enjoy the suggestions!

  3. When I travel with my husband, we get “randomly selected” so often that it has become a joke between us. One time, I was held up by those same people as they went through my bad piece by piece, even though I kept telling them the powdery substance in it was simply my makeup that had opened up. (I missed my flight.)
    So yeah- dude please.

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