I, in no way, mean to attack any particular group of people, nor am I intentionally being racist towards anyone by bringing up the subject of White Privilege. I would never resort to insulting anyone's race, ethnicity, or nationality. However, it has recently come to my attention that the stigma around the term White Privilege is hindering people from truly understanding the concept and its purpose. I would like to take this chance to lovingly educate you on what this phrase entails. I hope we all come to realize that the term "White Privilege" is not to be considered a racial slur nor is it to be used as an argumentative tactic against White people; It is merely an observation.
First, let's establish what White Privilege is not.
It is not about whether or not a White person believes they're a Black person's equal.
It is not about self-hatred or disassociating from your race.
It is not about discrediting White people's achievements.
It is not about debating if White people are "holding us back."
It is not about whether or not minorities want reparations in the form of money, land or otherwise.
It is not about individualized racism.
What is White Privilege, then?
According to Oxford, the definition of White Privilege is "the inherent advantages possessed by a White person on the basis of their race in a society characterized by racial inequality and injustice." In other words, White Privilege is actually about the fact that people of color in America are not receiving White peoples' everyday freedoms. It's about how the American educational system explains history from the point of view of the colonizers even though America stands to be the most integrated nation in the world. It's about how I never learned an objective history about my ancestors in school aside from the fact that we were slaves, or how my island was merely another U.S. territory. It's about how the extensive knowledge I deserved to learn as a student was limited to an optional elective. It's about how my textbooks glorified men like Thomas Jefferson who raped and owned over 600 slaves in his lifetime. It's about the cruel reality that I never had the opportunity to learn about the innumerable influential Black and Asian heroes that contributed to modern society until I got to college and started researching about them for myself. It's about the shocking lack of minority representation in modern media. It's about how we continue to brush internalized racism under the rug, especially within the Black and Asian communities (from my experience). It's about how the Westernized standard of beauty being imposed on people of color has severely scarred the collective self-esteem of these same communities. It's about how saddening that, for the rest of his life, my brother will have to look over his shoulder when he's walking outside for fear of being called a "threat" for no reason other than his skin color. It's about how my mom has grown so numb to blatant racism that she's unknowingly become complicit in it. It's about minority erasure. It's about symbolic annihilation. It's about unfair treatment. In summary, all of this is about minorities not having the same opportunities to thrive in their own respective cultures without being systematically handicapped.
"White Privilege" is not about attacking White people as individuals. It only serves to call attention to the systematic racism of the government.
The term White Privilege tends to scare people. In fact, some find it outright offensive. No one wants to feel like they only have what they have because of their race rather than their own grit or skills. I get that. However, I am not saying that White people got to where they are or earned their place in society just because of the color of their skin: I am saying that because of the color of their skin, it is much easier for them to climb out of situations that would normally be very difficult for people of color to escape from. White Privilege illustrates what White people deem as normal or common courtesy as being considered precious or a privilege for minorities. In modern day society, there are many examples of this. I touched on several examples in previous paragraphs, like how White people have the privilege of learning about their race in school, or how they have the privilege of finding media that overwhelmingly represents them. Another good example includes the way minorities are treated in the workforce. Though racial discrimination when hiring people has technically been outlawed, racism continues being practiced in the work environment. Natural black hairstyles continue being criticized because they're "unprofessional" or "distracting." Muslim workers continually get comments on their appearance or are bombarded with questions about Islamic customs, to the point of making them feel like their environment is hostile and intimidating. And so on in the justice system, where systematic racism reigns supreme. Police have been proven to be racially biased towards and negligent of minority-majority communities. The inclination to harass people of color has deep roots within this country. Stubborn Americans know better than anyone that laws have not always equaled lawful. The whole point of policing, when it was first being conceptualized in the United States in 1704, was to serve as "Slave Patrol." They served 3 primary goals:
(1) to chase down, apprehend, and return to their owners, runaway slaves
(2) to provide a form of organized terror to deter slave revolts, and
(3) to maintain a form of discipline for slave-workers who were subject to summary justice, outside of the law, if they violated any plantation rules.
Sound familiar? American law enforcement and the very foundations of the United States were built by fundamental racism, on the backs of natives and slaves, and you expect our current systems to not bear any resemblance to that? Radical changes may have been implemented to "fix" underlying racism, but in reality, they have only disguised it in a more "socially acceptable" way. If you've witnessed how ruthlessly minorities (oftentimes innocent) are tried in court and subjected to absurd treatment in jail, you'd agree that the judicial system operates in an almost modern day slavery system. Racist tendencies and ideals are imbedded deeply within the academic, judicial, and labor related systems of America today. There's no denying it. It is only when people begin acknowledging the faults of our government will we inspire adequate change. We can formulate new laws and pass more bills all we want, but nothing will change until there is a spiritual and cultural shift in this country. Unfortunately, racist ideals, whether you as a person believe in them or not, continue being nurtured to this day. It is up to us and our allies to shed a light on the things we've been complicit in for far too long and actively stand against it.
Take this from a person of color: I know that we're all fighting for the same thing. I know you want equality and you hate racism as much as I do. But you have to understand that the unwarranted tension imposed on us to not conform to negative stereotypes, the constant pressure to prove ourselves to the world, the fear of our work or ourselves not being seen as worthwhile just because of our race... it's still very real. You can pretend you don't see it around you. You could just write it off and say "I'm colorblind." But whether you acknowledge it or not, racism persists, and we need people like you to educate and hold the racist ones accountable. You may not have ever experienced it firsthand, but you cannot possibly expect me to believe you when you say that the historical effects of systematic oppression on the basis of race no longer exists. No matter how hard they've worked or how strong their will power is, people of color continue to struggle everyday to prove themselves in an educational, financial, and judicial system that is actively against them. We do our very best to get up on our feet, and many do succeed in making it big. Morgan Freeman, Will Smith, Lea Salonga, etc. are great examples of "rags to riches." However, I find it hard to believe that a poor Black person striving to get out of poverty would have the same opportunities to thrive than a poor White person in the same situation. Minorities have to work twice as hard to achieve the things that seem like common sense to White people; They are actively swimming against the tide in order to reach sustainability. Though I will admit that we've made valuable strides in favor of granting immigrants rights and freedoms in this country, there is much more work to be done. Just because society as a whole is not as racist as it was in the 1800s does not mean racism has been eliminated from America. Once again I say, as long as people cultivate racist tendencies, morals, and ideals, we will never progress.
White people DO have an invisible privilege that has been granted to them at birth by the government and modern society as a whole. However, I can assure you that Black people DO NOT resent White people at all for that. This is out of White people's individual control. This doesn't define you, your work, or your future successes. But White Privilege does in fact exist, whether you see it in your daily life or not. My children, no matter what, will experience what it means to be a person of color in the United States. I see White people no differently that any other person. But the government would sooner turn a gun on me than they would a White person, as the police have made it abundantly clear. These are the unfortunate circumstances we find ourselves in. Also, please remember that minorities do not wish to "lessen your rights." They only wish to be equal with you. And if inflated privileges are in the way of that equality, something must be done to level the playing ground for every individual on this planet.
Having White Privilege and recognizing that you have it is not racist.
I promise that you will not be considered a self-hating White person for acknowledging your privileges. You will not offend people of color by admitting your privilege. In fact, you'd be praised among minorities for recognizing and actively educating others about the unfairness of your privileges. You will only be recognizing that the same government that kills people solely for their color of their skin claims that, because of the color of your skin, you're more worthy of better treatment. We are both being unfairly manipulated into believing chaos and social unrest is the American way. A government as corrupt as ours should inspire unity between us Americans, which is needed now more than ever. I charge you to be an active ally and continue informing yourself. If you'd like to continue reading up on this topic, I've linked some credible references for you to enjoy beneath this image. God bless us all, and may the United States finally begin righting their wrongs.
If you'd like to discover some examples of White Privilege you may not have known about, here's a top 10 list. https://www.yesmagazine.org/social-justice/2017/07/24/10-examples-that-prove-white-privilege-exists-in-every-aspect-imaginable/
If you'd like to read a Harvard reading list on confronting racism at work, you'll find this link useful. https://hbr.org/2020/06/confronting-racism-at-work-a-reading-list
If you'd like to read more about some examples of racial discrimination, click this link. https://www.brighthr.com/articles/equality-and-discrimination/racial-discrimination/examples-of-racial-discrimination-in-the-workplace/
If you'd like to learn more about the history of policing in the United States, here's a scholarly article for you to peruse. https://plsonline.eku.edu/insidelook/history-policing-united-states-part-1#:~:text=In%201838%2C%20the%20city%20of,Lundman%201980%3B%20Lynch%201984).
If you'd like to "check your privilege," here is a literal White Privilege Checklist. http://also-chicago.org/also_site/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/white-privilege.pdf
If you'd like to read another riveting blog post (by someone much more qualified than me), click here. http://feistythoughts.com/2017/08/23/why-i-stopped-talking-about-racial-reconciliation-and-started-talking-about-white-supremacy/