Talking about privilege with other white folks can be messy. The frustrated, knee-jerk reactions often come from the idea that by saying someone is "privileged" means that they haven't worked hard. I understand this reaction as I have had it too. But this isn't the case. White privilege really boils down to a vast array of benefits and advantages not shared by people of color (POC) and specifically, black people. It doesn’t mean that I, as a white person, don’t work hard or that I haven’t suffered, but simply that I receive help, or often unacknowledged assistance because I am white. As a way to reflect and acknowledge the lived experience of black and indigenous people, I want to publicly confess ten ways in which I benefit from White Privilege.
1. I spent most of my life never having to think about or discuss the idea of privilege.
2. I have the privilege of having a (generally) positive relationship with the police.
3. I had to learn about race in school (versus a lived experience).
4. All the books, movies, and even church flannel-graphs I experienced as a child overwhelmingly representative of my race.
5. I have the privilege of attending or sending my child to a segregated school of affluence.
6. I have often used the line “I’m not really into politics” – demonstrating an innate realization that the system is ultimately working for me so I have the luxury of ignoring the details.
7. I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time (work, neighborhood, church).
8. All of the history I was taught in school was the history of my own race. White Europeans and eventually white Americans were always the main character.
9. I do not have to train my children to always be aware of their surroundings and activities because of their skin color and the perception of people around them.
10. I can go (pretty much) wherever I want and whenever I want.
So What Can We Do? Here are some suggestions.
1. Buy books by black authors and read them. A suggested place to start is Layla Saad's Me and White Supremacy.
2. Diversify your social media feed.
3. Make your own list of ways you benefit from white privilege. Share it publicly.
4. Watch 5 movies or TV series in which a white person is not the hero.
5. Watch the Ava DuVernay documentary 13th (Netflix).
6. Ask your faith organization how they plan to talk about race.
7. Educate yourself on the Black Lives Matter movement and separate fact from fiction.
8. When talking to people of color, do more listening than speaking.
9. Shop and spend money at business owned by people of color.
10. Make a commitment to "show up" for racial justice in one way this month.