“White privilege” – refers to the benefits of access to resources, social rewards, and the power to shape the norms and values of society that whites receive. Consciously or unconsciously. You are born into it and there is nothing you can do to get rid of it.
White privilege will come up nine times out of ten, if you stay around long enough to see a conversation about race go down on the internet, more specifically in social media.
As soon as this term is used the one who has said it is met with comments such as
“That term is racist”
“Why do I have to suffer because I am white?”
Or my favorite
“Just because I am white, doesn’t mean I have money. I am not privileged.”
You don’t have to have money to benefit from white privilege nor do you even have to personally identify yourself as white. As long as society sees you as white, there is no question in whether you will benefit from white privilege.
Yet if you are still confused and have no idea how you are benefiting from the color of your skin answer these questions:
- Have you ever been stopped and frisked? Due to the fact that you fit a description of someone who may commit a crime?
- Have you ever been followed around a store, questioned, or even arrested after you bought something?
- Have you ever had been affected by negative stereotypes about your race, which have been going around since your ancestors stepped foot in the country?
- Are people surprised that when you speak, that you are actually articulate?
- Have you ever had to sit your kids down and talk about systemic racism?
- Have you ever received a job due to affirmative action? Or better yet, do people question your qualifications for the job you have?
- Have you ever realized that you are only one of a handful of students of your race on your college campus?
- If you have answered no to a majority of these questions chances are you benefit from white privilege.
Yet because I am pointing out you have been born into a world of privilege I am not asking the following from you:
- A feeling of guilt
- An apology
- I am not asking you to explain to me how you are not racist. Discussing white privilege is not the same as calling you racist.
- I also am not asking you to explain how you are a good person; I never said you weren’t.
- What I am asking you is to acknowledge the fact that you have privilege and to check yourself at the door, before you get into a conversation about race.
- I am asking for you not to respond with, “slavery was years ago and to get over it…” When I speak about how slavery has affected and is still affecting the black community today.
- I would like you to stop saying that you are color blind when it comes to race and that people are just people. Yes in the perfect world this would be great. Yet, this is not the perfect world, and because of your privilege you do not have to face the fact that you are white every day. I, in fact, do have to address the fact that I am black every day. Your color blindness is, in fact, a form of racism. You cannot refuse to see a problem and expect it to go away.
I ask that you listen to me and at least try to understand where I am coming from on any given issue.
White privilege will continue to be around until white supremacy is completely erased from society. Until that day, I do ask you to use your white privilege for good. When you can understand your own privilege you will finally be better equipped to understanding the systemic inequalities that are going on around you. You will be better equipped to challenging the system and perhaps making a change.