Why, why, why are many white people offended by the label, “White Privilege?” I have some ideas based on my personal experience, which I will get to, but let me first state what my definition is of “White Privilege.”
If you are white, you have it. It has nothing to do with what you believe, or how your treat others. It is about how the world sees you, receives you, and treats you.
It is not about what you give, it is about what you receive (or perhaps I should say, it is about what you do not receive). It is not even about the customary definition of privileged.
I had a “friend” (not anymore!) who actually said to me as she was tried to defend the idea that white privilege no longer exists, “I would not allow anyone to treat me differently, or special.”
So, how do you get the police to stop you while you are driving an expensive car late at night in an upper-class neighborhood? You can’t – hence white privilege.
Do you carry a sign that says, please racial profile me. Please see me as less than. Of course not, hence, white privilege.
Can you see a pattern here? It is about what does not happen to you – rich or poor – if you are white that gives you privilege.
White people, or light skinned people, do not get profiled. Period. It doesn’t really matter what the law says, human nature just does it. That is why AWARENESS has become important to me.
Come on, white people – WAKE UP! If you really are not a racist, then join my campaign to awaken the masses of ordinary white people who sincerely believe we are all equal. I know there are many white people who really are not prejudice, or racist, and who legitimately do not discriminate. But so far, we are not the majority. I am not sure we can irradiate the practice but with greater awareness, perhaps it can be diminished.
This “friend” tried to remind me that the signs “Whites only” “Coloreds only” disappeared in the 60’s.
Guess what? While many of the signs have been physically removed, the meaning of them has not been removed. The behaviors continue, sometimes overtly, mostly more subtly.
As white people we do not see what is not a fight is for us. We can pretty much go anywhere and do anything without additional scrutiny. We are not profiled. Formal “racial profiling” can be out-lawed in the courts but it has not prevented it. Even some people who are victims of racial profiling, do racial profiling. It seems to be a human thing to form opinions of others by what we see, rather than what we know. We do it within our own races, within our own “groups” – whatever be the group.
I grew up believing all people were created equal. I recall my mother telling me often that “Jesus loves everyone the same.” My father was in the military and I was never restricted from playing with any child, nor did I ever hear a racist remark in my home. So, when I first heard the term, “White Privilege,” I sincerely did not believe it applied to me – because I did not understand what it meant. I thought, like many people, it had to do with my beliefs and my actions.
When it was time to take this required (thankfully) class in ministerial school, I thought “easy A.” Wrong!!! I struggled to get a “B.” When I began to read the required text books (listed at the end of this blog) I was devastated by the abuse and the pain that was occurring all around me as I was growing up that I was completely unaware of. I went back through my childhood and thought about how my family traveled a lot. We traveled all through the southern states and we did whatever we wanted to do and no one ever looked at us “funny” or did anything that would cause my family to be fearful.
When we were hungry, we stopped to eat. I never noticed there were only white people. I never noticed there were separate bathrooms and drinking fountains.
Reading on, I came to realize this was an example of white privilege.” We received treatment than not all people were privileged to receive. THAT is white privilege. I am pretty sure my parents knew, but it was never mentioned, or talked about.
I went to a high school that was mostly white with a few Asians, and Hispanics, but no blacks. I do not remember even noticing that demographic until a black teacher came aboard. He was my Biology teacher and he was a campus favorite. That, however, is not the point. The point is, it was not until he arrived that I even noticed the racial imbalance. That is the thinking of “white privilege.” I noticed, and that was pretty much it.
White privilege is a fairly new label (relative to all of time), and I think what might throw some people off is the word, “privilege.” If you are poor and just trying to survive it is really hard to accept the term. However, even as a street person, as I was at one time, I realize I was not harassed by the police as were people of color. I only see that in retrospect as I begin to better understand it.
Also, it is not just Caucasians that benefit. All light- skinned people of every race can have this “privilege” depending on skin tone. This “special” treatment also occurs within non-white groups. I do not add this to dilute the issue but to simply point out the inequity of the “white is right” mentality that appears (from my research) to have been around since Biblical times. But then there are many beliefs from Biblical times I disagree with.
I took a class in college, “Latin American Literature” and our instructor who was from South America gave us literature that showed this “White Privilege” mentality even in dark skinned cultures. Where I currently live, white is the minority demographic and we have a number of Spanish speaking TV stations and even on those stations, the “stars” are light skinned.
It is an interesting phenomenon that has been around longer than the terminology, or labels for it. But my passion is not to really get to the beginning, or when and where the label, “white privilege” came about. My passion is to reach the many well-meaning white people who do not believe the term applied to them. My desire is to grow understanding and awareness. I know there are many people who truly believe white is the supreme race and they are simply not my target. I am not trying to undo their beliefs. I have discovered since the last election that I do, in fact, have friends who are racists. I cry often about that because I simply do not understand. Even at my spiritual center. And I wonder, how can that be? We teach what I learned when I was a child that God loves everyone equally. We continue to teach equality and yet, we have racists among us. I am distraught beyond explanation.
It is the denial that white privilege exists that seems to cause the most problems. I am white so of course I hear talk. I hear white people saying “all that racism stuff is a thing of the past.” Some believe that news accounts of racist activity is “fake news.”
Perhaps I am beating my head against a wall. I have received death threats before behind my views (which kind of “proves” there is still racism, doesn’t it?), but I can’t let death threats stop me from trying to educate – to bring about awareness that white privilege IS REAL.
I am grateful that I am director of the youth program at my spiritual center where I get to teach and share by way of art, crafts and science, the spiritual principles of right living which include equality. I am there as a result of a long standing prayer, “What is mine to do to make a better world, to make a world that works for everyone.” One day a voice said to me loud and clear, “the better world is today in the hearts and minds of the children.” The children are the future and have become my passion.
I want to target the people who are not racists but do not understand how the term applies to them.
My mission and my passion is spreading awareness. Are you interested? Contact me. If I get enough feedback, I will create a FB page directed and dedicated to increased awareness of the true meaning of white privilege. I would like to call this group. WPA “White Privilege Awareness”