I am white and I admit that I have experienced privilege.
I say this because not enough white people say it. Not enough whites want to learn from the advantages that they have had and at least attempt to peer into the shoes of some one whose great-grandparents may have been slaves, or whose grandparents were banned from immigrating to the US, or who is mistakenly or not-so-mistakenly branded as something less than human and merely illegal.
My ancestors were "pig-in-the-parlor" Irish, dissident Alsatians, poor Southern Whites with Cherokee aunts, and other square pegs to eighteenth century America's round wholes. They did not have it easy in the least. But they did not have to deal with the sheer amount of discrimination, hostility, and overt inequality, which for millions of others were daily reminders of their irreversible identity as people of color. For them, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a breath of fresh air, which has since been stifled by the right wing's return to coded talk of states' rights and increasingly overt returns to Jim Crow policies, if Arizona's SB 1070 is any indication.
Now, a challenger to the Republican Party Machine in Kentucky, thinks he is leading us into a new era of freedom by "questioning" the impacts of the Civil Rights Act and similar legislation. Dr. Rand Paul has never had to think about how life would be if he lived under the provisions he envisions as expansive and libertarian - for people of color and to a lesser extent all other minorities this constitutes a massive loss. If the private sphere no longer must serve all Americans, then mobility becomes a nightmare, since there's no guarantee that a restaurant will serve you or that a store will let you use its facilities. Confined much more tightly to present neighborhoods, ghettos, and self-segregated areas, minorities could easily be reduced to much lower living standards. There's no guarantee that a bank will give any of them a loan, or that business associations will allow them into their little clubs.
Ironically, Paul's answer to these questions is that the public institutions, meanwhile, under this ideal version of the Civil Rights Act, would have been integrated and filled the role of sustaining the economic strength and social incorporation of minority communities. No should trust him in saying this, because, as his libertarian background suggests, he cannot even commit to support of basic universal measures that guarantee such egalitarianism - such as a minimum wage.
This is becoming the new face of the right in American politics as Republicans are purged from the Republican party - a new front for the reinstatement of Jim Crow.