What is White Privilege?

I f you are White, you have White Privilege. Period. Unfortunately, the term is not readily understood by White people. We tend to think it means we grew up in upper-middle class or upper class and had at least a comfortable degree of financial wealth and opportunities other people didn’t have. But White Privilege is much more than that. You can be poor and disadvantaged and still have White Privilege.

It is something that is automatically conferred on us solely because we are White, irrespective of wealth, gender or other factors. It’s the idea that just by virtue of being a White person of any kind, we’re part of the dominant group, which tends to be respected, assumed the best of, and given the benefit of the doubt. That just isn’t the case for people of other races, no matter how wealthy, smart or hard-working they might be.

Being White automatically makes life smoother for those of us who have it, but it’s something we barely notice unless it is suddenly taken away — or unless it had never applied to us in the first place.

It’s the silent “badge” we wear wherever we go that indicates we are part of the “accepted norm”, so to speak. In other words, the way we think and live and act and speak is what is considered to be “normal” against which everything else is measured. It is allows us to be treated differently than people of color. It gives us automatic permission to go about our daily lives without worry or concern of being automatically under suspicion for doing something wrong or being judged as “less”. That just isn’t the case for people of other races, no matter how wealthy, smart or hard-working they might be.

Please click on picture and view this TED talk of a man who shares a few of his experiences of living in a White world:

Some White people avoid looking at the privilege we have because they start to feel guilt and shame. But we have done nothing wrong, we are just operating from a preconceived filtering system we aren’t aware of. A reminder to acknowledge one’s privilege is just a reminder to be aware — aware we might not be able to fully understand someone else’s experiences, or that the assumptions we were brought up with may be blinding us and driving us to make limiting judgments. It’s not an attack on you personally nor is it meant to make you feel guilt or shame.

The thing about White Privilege is it tends to be unintentional, unconscious and uncomfortable to recognize, but easy to take for granted. But it’s that very invisibility that makes it that much more important to understand: Without confronting what exists, there’s no chance of leveling the field so everyone has a fair chance of winning the race.

Our White ignorance of what Blacks live every day is a major part of the racial problem.

Until we become aware, we cannot change. We, who identify as White, are not bad and wrong for this ignorance, but even being able to ignore learning about it is part of having White Privilege. Clearly, we can’t change our color, but we do need to look within and self-reflect on our own subconscious racist beliefs that unconsciously translate into actions that perpetuate the problem. We have a lot of work to do!

My name is  Martha
I am a White American  woman.
I can do, say, and be all of these things without fear (as can my family).
I stand with my Black brothers and sisters.

I know that...

I will not be killed.
I can go jogging (#AmaudArbery).
I can relax in the comfort of my own home (#BothemSean and #AtatianaJefferson).
I can ask for help after being in a car crash (#JonathanFerrell and #RenishaMcBride).
I can have a cellphone (#StephonClark).
I can leave a party to get to safety (#JordanEdwards).
I can play loud music (#JordanDavis).
I can sell CDs (#AltonSterling).
I can sleep (#AiyanaJones)
I can walk from the corner store (#MikeBrown).
I can play cops and robbers (#TamirRice).
I can go to church (#Charleston9).
I can walk home with Skittles (#TrayvonMartin).
I can hold a hair brush while leaving my own bachelor party (#SeanBell).
I can party on New Years (#OscarGrant).
I can get a normal traffic ticket (#SandraBland).
I can lawfully carry a weapon (#PhilandoCastile).
I can break down on a public road with car problems (#CoreyJones).
I can shop at Walmart (#JohnCrawford) .
I can have a disabled vehicle (#TerrenceCrutcher).
I can read a book in my own car (#KeithScott).
I can be a 10-yearr-old walking with my grandfather (#CliffordGlover).
I can decorate for a party (#ClaudeReese).
I can ask a cop a question (#RandyEvans).
I can cash a check in peace (#YvonneSmallwood).
I can take out my wallet (#AmadouDiallo).
I can walk home from the convenience store with an iced tea (#ElijahMcClain)
I can run (#WalterScott).
I can breathe (#EricGarne, #George Floyd, etc., etc., etc.)
I can live (#FreddieGray).

This is reality.
But what can I do? Show up, stand up and speak up. Silence makes you complicit.
Start right now.
Change the first two lines to your name and your identity, cut and paste and share with as many people as you can.
Silence kills.


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