Being white is to be privileged in UK in 2020

By Nicola Adam, deputy editor, Lancashire Post and Blackpool Gazette

A Black Lives Matter protest in Preston

When I first met my significant ex, he asked me a question.

What will your family think of me?

Why? I replied, already knowing his meaning.

I didn’t think to inquire what his family would think about him being with me.

Because I am white and I am privileged.

Some time later we were due to attend an event. Black tie.

But will there be anyone like me there, he asked?

I didn’t know and laughed it off uncomfortably, knowing what he meant.

Because I am white and I am privileged.

On the night he scanned the room nervously, visibly relaxing when he saw another black face across the room.

With a nod they acknowledged each each other. Strangers but united.

I watched in surprise because I am white and I am privileged and couldn’t possibly understand.

It’s an assumption we carry, however rich, poor or well brought up we are — and however well meaning.

A knowledge we will always be acceptable and always be given the opportunity, as long as our skin is white.

As America burns and protests are heard across the UK this week, we all need to take a good, hard look at ourselves and I include us here in our predominantly white and privileged, intelligent, community and newsroom.

Racism is not always overt and it’s often ingrained.

Murders like that of George Floyd, an act of senseless brutality, break the skin of racism and make it bleed. It is obvious. It is making the world scream in pain.

Usually racism is quieter. It’s endemic and much like Covid-19, transmitted invisibly and when you least expect it.

You cannot always spot a carrier by looking at them. You cannot take a test.

They may well be in the mirror.

It’s now 65 years since Rosa Parks famously took her place on the whites-only bus in the USA in an act of defiance. She became a symbol of the civil rights movement and advocate for change.

But still, in 2020, we have a long way to go to do Rosa justice.

No doubt the fashionable phrase ‘virtue signalling’ will be applied to this column.

I agree.

Yes, I am signalling that standing to be seen against racism is a virtue.

I am lucky enough to have a platform to make this point, so I am.

I am white, I am privileged, and to fail to speak up would make me a passenger on that bus, watching in silence as Rosa was dragged off.

Black lives matter.



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