I’ve stood by long enough. Coming from an overtly-conservative and white area, I usually silence my opinion because if I speak up approximately 3 people will jump in to tell me how I’m wrong because I’m either “too young”, “too stupid”, or whatever else. I don’t want to silence my voice anymore. My voice will bring about change. So here we go.
White Privilege is defined as: societal privileges that benefit white people in western countries beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances.
I, myself, am white. Here’s ways that I am privileged:
- Anywhere I go, people will not automatically think I cause trouble, am rowdy, and/or “ghetto”. People will think I am respectable and kind until I prove otherwise- because people see me and not my color.
- When watching television and movies or reading a book or magazine, I see my race widely represented. White people are spoken for.
- I can ignore the consequences of race because they do not affect me.
- I do not have to fear for my family’s life when they leave the house because the system does not work against us.
- I can choose to fight for racism, then choose not to.
- People do not attempt to turn my name into an easier-to-pronounce name, that also will end up being Anglo-Saxon.
- I can seek legal, financial, medical help without my race being held against me.
- People do not tell me to simply “get over slavery”.
- I do not have an accent that causes me to be mocked and ridiculed when speaking the all-important language: English.
- When I succeed, I am awarded my accomplishments, not my race.
- When I fail, I as an individual am attributed that failure- it is not a reflection on my race.
- People are not surprised when I am intelligent, articulate, and successful.
- People think I am capable due to my whiteness.
- I don’t have to worry about being the victim of law enforcement.
- I don’t have a “one third of black men will go to prison” statistic constantly looming over my head.
- I can act how I want without being labeled a “thug”.
- People automatically assume I am qualified when I get accepted into college or get a new job. They don’t attribute it to “having to meet a quota”.
- When shopping, employees don’t keep a careful watch on me in case I try to steal.
- I will never be labelled a terrorist for merely existing.
- I am never stopped to be frisked.
- I am always my own person, never referred to as the “White Beyonce” for instance.
- I can live my life unaware of my skin color.
And that’s just the beginning of this list…
Most people have some sort of privilege, some groups of people just have more than others. Blacks have privileges too- they’re more likely to get athletic scholarships whereas white athletes, especially in basketball, tend to be ridiculed with the term “white boy” and not taken seriously. (I realize this privilege is nowhere near as serious as the ones I listed earlier). Men are privileged because they won’t be asked “what were you wearing?” if they were raped. Women are privileged because we can be openly emotive without being asked “are you gay?” or being called a “sissy” or “pussy”. Everyone has some kind of privilege- its just that white people have more. US citizens have privileges that non-citizens will never have access to. Wealthier people are privileged because they can afford more opportunities such as college, even if they don’t have a scholarship. Heterosexuals are privileged because they never have to “come out” or worry about whether they can get married or not. By being born cisgender you never have to worry about upsetting people if you use the bathroom you identify with. Being born able-bodied and without disabilities, people automatically assume you are intelligent and you have an “easier” life.
Instead of denying that privilege, we should use that privilege to help others. Become allies to groups that are way under-privileged compared to yourself- any group of color, LGBTQIA, poorer families, the disabled. Use your voice to speak out for fairness, equality, and peace. Ignoring your privilege only contributes to the problem. Recognize it. Stand up for others. People are not born with equal footing on American soil, but we can help change that. Play your part. 🙂