A Simple Thought Experiment on White Privilege That Anyone Can Understand
A lot of white men in the United States are suffering from unemployment, failing health, epidemic levels of social isolation and mental health challenges. A lot of white men are on the streets, victims of combat PTSD and economic disasters. Millions of white men are victims of our man box culture of masculinity that expects us to win every day and doesn’t give a damn about us when we stop winning. When we tell men whose lives have fallen apart, that they have white privilege, it can be difficult for them to hear.
I know white privilege is a complex issue, but here’s a simple thought experiment on white privilege that even these men will understand:
Not sure what white privilege is? Imagine you’re in the US. You’re driving down a country road in the middle of the night. You are far from home. Suddenly, you see police lights in your rearview mirror. You pull over and you look down at your hand. Imagine, in that moment, that you can choose to have any color skin you want. What color skin would you pick? If you choose white skin when dealing with the police, then you have just shown you know what white privilege is.
The simple fact is white people know the cops are going to be more careful about how they treat us. If that isn’t a systemic advantage based on race, I don’t know what is.
Mark Greene writes, speaks and consults on masculinity, and diversity and inclusion for organizations across the United States. To learn more about his work, go to RemakingManhood.com.