Fox News host Bill O’Reilly expressed skepticism on Wednesday over the idea of white privilege, saying his upbringing and his inability to tan disqualified him from having it.
“I’m a really white guy,” O’Reilly told contributor Rev. Jacques DeGraffe. “When I was in Hawaii last week, I couldn’t go in the sun. If I was in the sun for 3 minutes, my ears would fall off. I’m from Levittown, as you know, out in Long Island, and my parents didn’t have a lot of money. Do I have white privilege? Am I privileged in any way under this banner?”
“Yes,” DeGraffe quickly responded. “Because none of the things that you’ve indicated speak to the issue of white privilege. White privilege isn’t whether your skin pigmentation is strong or weak. It isn’t how much money you have in the bank. You are the beneficiary of years of whites having the advantage in this country.”
“But I didn’t experience that when I painted houses, cut lawns,” O’Reilly interjected.
“But others experienced it,” DeGraffe replied. “It’s not a question of whether you’re a good person or work hard.”
“I’m gonna have to exempt myself under that white privilege banner,” O’Reilly insisted.
O’Reilly brought the topic up in relation to Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government adding a section called “Checking Your Privilege 101” to the orientation program for incoming students, but he mistakenly referred to it as a class.
“You can’t have a course based on skin color, ‘white privilege,'” O’Reilly told DeGraffe. “That in itself is inherently racist, and it’d be foolish to do it, right?”
“Orientation is not for credit — that’s an important dimension,” DeGraffe said, correcting him. “All students who are gonna be dealing in public policy will get an understanding of what those who have gone before them have experienced.”
“The only way I would accept that is if I taught the course,” O’Reilly said.
O’Reilly’s colleague, Stuart Varney, disagreed with him slightly, saying white privilege was a factor in American life, but only in the past, saying that teaching students about it now would only be divisive.
“I have a Black grandson. I’ve got a multiracial family,” Varney said. “And I’m supposed to teach that young man — great kid — am I supposed to teach him that his granddad exists because of white privilege, or is successful because of it?”
Watch the discussion, as posted online on Wednesday, below.