I am white privilege.
I may not wish to acknowledge it, but the fact remains.
I have opportunities available to me simply because I am a member of the dominant race in my particular culture.
I can always find opportunities to be in groups of people of my race.
I can be fairly certain that when I need to move, I will find affordable housing in a neighborhood where I feel comfortable.
I can expect that the curriculum my children will be exposed to (and that I grew up with) will largely tell stories of people of our race.
I can be hired by an affirmative action employer without people accusing me of getting the job because I am white.
I have been able to avoid certain uncomfortable situations simply because I am a member of the dominant race in my particular culture.
I can go shopping without having people follow me (even if I wear a hoodie).
If I am late to a meeting, those present will not assume it is because of my race.
I can suggest racism suggests without being considered self-serving.*
In addition to my white privilege, I also benefit from male privilege within my church culture. In the U.S. today, I also benefit from class privilege since I have never been in extreme poverty. Even on those occasions when my family income has fallen below the poverty line, there were always resources available to my family and me that prevented from struggling too much for too long.
So I am white, male, and middle class. Whether I like it or not, whether I admit it or not, I am privileged.
This does not mean I have been given everything throughout my life. I was raised by hard-working parents and I believe myself to be a hard worker.
Being a person of privilege does not mean I have not worked hard. But my baseline is considerably higher than a large number of people in this country. Many people try to avoid accepting the fact they are privileged, but there is nothing value-based in making the acknowledgement; it is a fact.
So what can I do about it?
I must find ways to use my privilege to help others:
I must provide a voice to the voiceless.
I must provide strength to the weary.
I must look beyond the categories of privilege and see the other person—as a person, not a category.
I must join my story with other people’s stories.
My next few posts will deal with strategies to accomplish this. I do not have all the answers, so I value your input and feedback. Many of us have benefited from privilege based on our race, gender, sexual orientation, and class. Let us learn together how to use our privilege for the benefit of others.
*(For a more thorough definition of how privilege exists, check out “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh.)