We need to talk about white privilege

We need to talk about white privilege.

We need to talk about white privilege because many people refuse to believe it exists. I know white privilege exists because – and it has taken me a long time to feel I can admit this publicly – I perpetrate it. We need to talk about white privilege because I feel more uncomfortable when walking down the street at night among black hooded boys, than among white hooded boys.

We need to talk about white privilege because I have been the victim of crime twice – and both times the perpetrators were white. We need to talk about white privilege because once I was in a potentially dangerous situation where a drunkenly out of control homeless (white) person was pushing me for money, and a black man helped me out. Yet, I still feel safer surrounded by white people in some low income areas.

We need to talk about white privilege because even the people who know it exist sometimes respond with ‘and who is committing the majority of the crimes, huh?’. I don’t need to know who are committing the crimes, I just need to know that there are black people out there who would never commit a crime, but live under the constant suspicion that they will.

We need to talk about white privilege because even the people who know it exists sometimes respond with ‘so what? Can’t ‘they’ pull themselves out of it, and rise above it?’. Yet Psychological Science knows the effect of a single instance of telling someone that they are less likely to be successful at a task do drastically reduces their success. Yet people are growing up in constantly being told that they are more likely commit crime, they are less likely to finish school, they are more likely to have a broken marriage….

We need to talk about white privilege because we accept that it is a dreadful thing to do to raise a child telling then that they won’t succeed, and we love public health messages which tell us that if women are told their capabilities are limited their success will be limited, but somehow it is OK to tell whole races of people that their capabilities are limited.

(Above is an embed of the famous Verizon ad encouraging women, but if it doesn’t display, you can see it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XP3cyRRAfX0)

We need to talk about white privilege because women need positive messages, support and encouragement,to overthrow unfair expectations, but I am told that colors need to stop making excuses.

We need to talk about white privilege because I am so damn sick of hearing about black-on-black crime without hearing that 84% of US murdered white people* are white on white (http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/htus8008.pdf). And that’s not the damn point anyway.

We need to talk about white privilege because I don’t want my son growing up in a world where people are treated differently because of how they look.

We need to talk about white privilege because that in no way takes away from rich privilege, or male privilege (or sometimes female privilege), or Christian privilege, or high IQ privilege, or having a PhD privilege.

We need to talk about white privilege because it is oppressing people, and people are dying because of it.

Please, let’s talk about white privilege.

This was a very hard post to write, and I am really worried about a backlash. But I don’t want to be someone who buries this in the sand, and won’t acknowledge it, and let’s it continue. I want to talk about, understand, and remove white privilege.

* Thank you to my friend Robert for correcting the original statement.

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8 thoughts on “We need to talk about white privilege

  1. Joseph Delaney

    I like the generic term of privilege because there are so many dimensions to it.

    I actually find that the most insidious piece is how even privileged people can work hard or encounter tough breaks. That can set up a narrative of “all my friends and I got here solely due to hard work”. While hard work may be a necessary condition, it isn’t sufficient. And how much worse it must be to work hard and be disqualified by something beyond your control!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Me Post author

    That’s a really interesting perspective which I have not heard. I guess you could rephrase it as: to say that you are privileged in some way, does not take away from the fact that you have worked hard and overcome obstacles… that might help people accept the role of privilege more?

    Like

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