Every White Person Needs to Know About Their Privilege
Learn the Facts. Get Educated.
You've probably heard the term "white privilege" thrown around a lot these days. I wanted to write this to clear up any confusion or misconceptions you may have regarding the term.
White privilege is one of the very first things I learned in college back in fall of 2014. It was during a class discussion on representation in the media. My mind was blown. I had never thought about before. Why? Because I am white, and I am privileged. I've never had to ask why there's no one on TV who looks like me. They all look like me. Since then, I have continued to educate myself, both in school and independently on what it really means to be privileged, and what I can to do to help. Now I want to pass what I've learned along to my fellow white humans who may be wondering the same thing.
First thing's first. Let's define the term "privilege." It basically means that you have certain advatages, rights, and benefits that others do not. White privilege is basically having these advantages because your skin color allows you to, whether you're aware of it or not. Privilege is intersectional. There are all different kinds (male privilege, straight privilege, etc.) But today, we're focusing on the white kind.
I want to make one thing very clear. This does not mean your struggles, hardships, etc. are invalid. It means that living in a society where the odds are stacked against is one hardship that you don't have. As that one Tumblr post says, "Privilege doesn't mean you don't have any problems. It means you don't have any problems that come from oppression."
Here are some of the privileges you have as a white person:
- Society is not rigged against you.
- You are overly represented in the media.
- Your European features are considered the general standards of beauty (slim bodies, small noses, etc).
- The way you talk isn't considered uneducated.
- You aren't kicked out of class because your hair is too big or unsanitary.
- You don't usually have to worry about people mispronouncing your name.
- You're also more likely to get an interview for that job you applied for simply because you have a white sounding name. It's seen as more professional.
- You don't ever have to worry about being followed around in a store, or having the police called on you just for being a functioning member of society.
- Most importantly, you never have to worry about your life being in danger simply because of the color of your skin. You are not automatically perceived as "dangerous."
Everything I listed only scratches the surface. There are so many more privileges you have that you may not even realize.
Are you still with me? Now, let's talk about ways you can help. It's actually not that hard. Acknowledge that you are privileged. Educate yourself and other white people on what it really means to be privileged. Talk to your friends and family about it. Hold oppressors accountable. If you see someone being beaten or harassed, get your phone out and record it. We all carry our phones with us. It's not that hard. Let them see that they're being recorded. Post the video on social media. Spread the word. Report the incident. Be someone who demands justice.
Don't ignore the injustice, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Your silence means that you are letting the violence continue, and countless other people will suffer. Show up. Take to the streets. Stand in solidarity. Sign petitions. Donate if you can. Let the black community know that you see them, you hear them, you love them, you stand with them, and their life matters.
Don't just be not racist. Be anti-racist. Step up. Do your part. Be an ally. Most importantly, shut your mouth and LISTEN. Pay attention to what your black brothers and sisters are telling you. Stand with them. Amplify their voices, but don't be their voice. That is the only way things are going to change. White people, we need to do better. We need to continue to learn, and grow, and educate. There are so many things I still need to educate myself on, and I want to know more.
I know I'm probably not the best person to explain all this, but it's something I can do to educate those who may not understand. I apologize if I said anything ignorant or incorrect. I'm still learning. We all are.
You might feel angry about the riots that are breaking out across the country. You might get a little upset when you see windows being broken. That is your privilege at work. It is allowing you to feel that way. Caring more about the way people are protesting than why is part of the problem. You can replace a window. You can't replace a human life.