Dear white people
We need to talk about our Privilege
Before you get insulted or dismiss me, give me three minutes. You can do that. I’m not going to yell at you or call you names. We need to talk, really talk. Well, you need to listen. Really listen.
You and I are privileged beyond measurement. If you happen to also have white skin and a penis, well you hit the jackpot.
You probably didn’t like me saying that to you. You felt uncomfortable and wanted to counter with, “Well, I didn’t grow up rich. I had to work for everything I have. My grandparents (great grandparents more likely) were immigrants…” I know, that’s my story too. It’s the story of a lot of Americans. But that doesn’t have anything to do with our Privilege. You didn’t have to earn this. You were born into it, even if you were born in a trailer park or in the projects. You are white. You can’t escape it. You don’t even have to ever really think about it until some smartass like me points it out to you. That makes us a lot different than our friends of color. They can never escape their race/ethnicity. The world reminds them of it every second. Shoot, we remind them of it every second. And we don’t even know it most of the time.
The most fundamental aspect of our Privilege is never having to consider our own whiteness.
It’s the default way to be. Think about it. Everyone else is measured on how different they are from us. That’s messed up. How did we get to be the default human setting? By killing and stealing and being jerks, basically.
In my experience, most white people just can’t bear the pain of acknowledging their Privilege. It’s not that they don’t see it, necessarily; it’s that the pain of the truth of their own complacency (and benefits of this complacency) is too much. So they defend or deny the Privilege to save themselves from the pain and work of having to do something about it. The idea that they aren’t extraordinary or all that deserving of the benefits of whiteness is just too much for them. Their identity is more tied to their whiteness than they even know. You don’t have to think of yourself as white when white is the default human color.
Many are afraid that if we give up our Privilege then we will have less and other people will have more than we do. We deserve it, they don’t. This is a scarcity mentality. We need to stop it. Freedom is an infinite resource. Happiness too.
So my dear white people, let’s start with acknowledging our Privilege. That’s all I’m asking. We have to claim it to change it. I know you aren’t a racist. You wouldn’t be reading this if you were. But we have to be more than just not racist. We need to be anti-racist. We need to end racism. Be vigilant. Be brave. Speak up. Stand up for people who are being mistreated. Point out discrimination and microaggressions. Often the people on the other end of inequality are not in the position to fight back.