White privilege is an absence of the consequences of racism. An absence of structural discrimination, an absence of your race being viewed as a problem first and foremost. Reni Eddo-Lodge, author
White Privilege in the United States doesn’t mean your life isn’t hard, can’t be hard, or was never hard. It means the color of your skin will never be a factor in what’s causing your difficulties.
If you’ve never had the opportunity to talk honestly with a friend of another race living in the U.S., perhaps you haven’t had the chance to explore the consequences of White Privilege. You may even think it is political mumbo jumbo. Even though I’m Caucasian, I know White Privilege is happening all around us. We need to be awake to the consequences. When we see systems that are hurting or hindering others because of the color of their skin, we need to stay focused on their plight and make our voices heard.
Affirmation: I’m awake to the plight of others.
Coaching questions: If you’re Caucasian, consider what White Privilege means in your life? If you are a person of color, help your white friend or colleague understand what not being white in the U.S. has meant in your life?
Photo by William Felker on Unsplash
2 thoughts on “Understanding White Privilege”
What a sad and important topic.
Only in the last 25 years have I become aware of my white privileged. In the 70’s I saw firsthand the discrimination of women in hiring, pay and opportunity in several careers. Women’s careers were thought of as an afterthought by others (white males) because surely, we wanted to stay home and raise children. I just figured, Blacks and POC were treated much like women were until I started reading first Black Like Me (a white person’s chemical foray into blackness and was shocked that this racism in the 60s was going on everywhere) and then Malcolm X, Martin Luther, Maya Angelou, Zora Hurston, and more! I continue to this day to read only black authors in February. I’ve learned so much through books.
Why I say, 25 years ago? Because I had the opportunity to work in the State of Delaware, live in Wilmington in the 80s-90s which was a culturally diverse community. Then I moved, for my husband’s job, to Toledo Ohio (1993) where I continue to discover the depth of anti-black, anti-migrant, anti-muslin, anti-women, attitudes. I was taught by my grandmother who was a suffragette to never say “you people” or “those people” because we are ALL people and yet, I still in 2019 hear that said in this part of Ohio – not rarely either.
I just finished Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” and can’t stop talking about it as she never gives up. So many times, she mentions having to try harder, work longer, be attitude free just to be perceived as OK. My sadness comes from not knowing who I hurt in the past that I didn’t even know I’d hurt. To me, that is one of the worst crimes of white privilege when we just think that others need to try harder and not have attitude when we have never walked in their shoes. I have no idea the depth of sadness some must feel for all the NOs they have received in their life were I got a yes.
My white privileged is too much to mention but my awareness of it is key. Having been a girl scout and receiving my 1st class status, I was recently contacted by girl scouts to upgrade to the new Gold Award. To do this, I had to submit evidence that I had in fact done this award. I found my Cadette Scout Book and started thumbing through it and, yes, I found the information I needed but not before I noticed that there were only white girl scouts helping white people. I never noticed that before, and I had gone to jamborees in Flint and Lansing where we were in community with other girls that were POC and I now weep that those young girls still strove to be 1st class scouts even when all the images they saw were white.
When people say that people of color just need to “get over it”, we, as the privileged, need to start recognizing how we have, some through ignorance, supported this system.
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What an excellent commentary on the topic! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences.