What is White Privilege?
February is Black History Month. As a way of honoring this time (which should actually be ALL the time), I thought it might be good to do some self-evaluation and reflection.
Talking about privilege with other white folks can be messy. The frustrated, knee-jerk reaction often come from the idea that by saying someone is “privileged” means that they haven’t worked hard. I understand this reaction as I have had it too. But this isn’t necessarily the case. White privilege really boils down to the a vast array of benefits and advantages not shared by many people of color (POC). It doesn’t mean that I, as a white person, don’t work hard or that I haven’t suffered, but simply that I receive help, or often unacknowledged assistance because I am white.
As a way to reflect and acknowledge the lived experience of people of color, I want to publicly confess 10 ways in which I benefit from White Privilege. I challenge you to do the same (either in the comments here or on my Instagram post).
10 Ways I Benefit From Privilege
- I spent most of my life never having to think about or discuss the idea of privilege.
- I have the privilege of having a (generally) positive relationship with the police.
- I had to learn about race in school (versus a lived experience).
- All the books, movies, and even church flannel-graphs I experienced as a child overwhelmingly representative of my race.
- I have the privilege of attending or sending my child to a segregated school of affluence.
- I have often used the line “I’m not really into politics” – demonstrating an innate realization that the system is ultimately working for me so I have the luxury of ignoring the details.
- I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time (work, neighborhood, church).
- All of the history I was taught in school was the history of my own race. White Europeans and eventually white Americans were always the main character.
- I do not have to train my children to always be aware of their surroundings and activities because of their skin color and the perception of people around them.
- I can go (pretty much) wherever I want and whenever I want.
So What Can We Do?
Here are some suggestions (most of which I found here) on ways to celebrate black history month instead of posting a quote by MLK on Facebook.
- Buy books by black authors and read them.
- Diversify your social media feed.
- Make your own list of ways you benefit from white privilege. Share it publicly.
- Watch 5 movies or TV series in which a white person is not the hero.
- Download Layla F. Saad’s “White Privilege + Me” workbook. Pay for it.
- Ask your faith organization how they plan to talk about race.
- Educate yourself on the Black Lives Matter movement and separate fact from fiction.
- When talking to people of color, do more listening than speaking.
- Shop and spend money at business owned by people of color.
- Make a commitment to “show up” for racial justice in one way this month.