So I Was Born With White Privilege. Now What?
The first — and most difficult — step when confronting a problem is to admit that we have one. It is the most difficult because admitting it then forces us to examine our role in the problem. How did we get here? What did we do to aid in the journey? What did we turn a blind eye to, or rationalize away, in order to arrive at this juncture?
The answers almost always point inward, to choices we’ve made and acted upon. We don’t want that kind of self-scrutinizing, or the judgment it inevitably brings. It would be so much easier to ignore the facts of the situation and convince ourselves that we actually don’t have a problem.
If, however, we admit there is a problem, now we must determine the part we have played in it. Another frightening prospect for most. Two strenuous steps in a row! Figuring out what we did to contribute to the problem will likely be painful and humbling. It will require deep soul- and self-searching. It will bring our failures that we have kept hidden, maybe even from ourselves, into full view.
Yet once this is done, we can move forward to correcting the problem. To finding a solution. To making changes. To taking action.
My unwillingness to be offended by the consequences of the privilege that I — and all other straight white males — are born with is a problem with which I am now wrestling. I have identified it, admitted it, and am looking for solutions to move forward. One of those solutions is sharing my journey here, for others that may be in a similar place or for those who can offer support and assistance. Another is to no longer be silent when the opportunity arises to speak out against bigotry. Another is to play an active part in whatever way I can to work toward eliminating the reality of that privilege. Because when privilege based on the color of skin I was born with, or gender I was born, or the gender of the person I fell in love with, or the God I choose to worship — when that privilege no longer exists, it will signify the end of the bigotry it represents.
But I can’t eliminate the privilege — that would be working on the symptom rather than the disease. So, I must focus on eliminating the bigotry. I believe bigotry has not ever been a part of my life, unlike the privilege that represents it. Yet it so obviously (and often not so obviously) permeates our daily lives in this country, from centuries ago into today. More than anything else right now all I can do is keep thinking about it, talking about it, shedding light on it and engaging with it. It is not a peaceful path, but I know it is the right one, because not only does it involve the destruction of hate, but it is the pursuit of love.
Care to join me or share any insights from your own journey?
This post was originally published on my Facebook profile on 11/19/16. I am working on moving previous related posts from there to Medium in order to continue the journey here that I started sharing there.