What is “White Privilege”?
White privilege is defined as a set of advantages and/or immunities that white people benefit from on a daily basis beyond those common to others. White privilege sometimes exists outside of the conscious knowledge of white people, which maintains racial hierarchy in America. In laymen’s terms, the lighter your skin is, the more opportunities are offered to you. Whether we want to accept it or not, every white person in the United States is privileged. But keep in mind, being privileged is different from being racist. Racism is believing that there are specific characteristics or abilities of each race that makes one superior or inferior to the rest.Just because you are basking in the benefits of privilege, does not mean you are racist; that is another ball game.Why is it that a white man with a criminal record is 5 percent more likely to obtain a job over a man of color with a clean record? Why is it that Hillary Clinton was addressed as “The First Lady” when her husband was in office, but Michelle Obama was labelled, Barack Obama’s “Baby Mama” by FOX News? Now do not get me wrong, not only white people experience a sense of privilege, but white people do experience an extraordinary amount of privilege in juxtaposition to other races and ethnicities in the United States.This video is a prime example:
As shown in the video above, the amount of privilege experienced in a lifetime varies per person. For example, a white man can make more than a white woman while working the same job, but that white woman will still be offered more opportunities than a woman of color, who still makes less than a man of color in many cases. So the question is, how privileged are you?
How privileged are you?
If the video didn't help you determine how privileged you are, then maybe this quiz might:
If you are a White, Abled, Cisgendered, Straight male (the whole first row) then you are the most privileged. If you are everything previously stated with the exception of being a male, you are more privileged than the rest, but less privileged than the white male.
A Florida mom is outraged when her 12-year old daughter returns home with the assignment above given to her by her 7th grade Spanish teacher. The students are instructed to circle all of the boxes that apply to them under the categories presented at the top of the page. The mother took this photo and posted it to her Facebook page with the caption: "What would you do if your child came home with this?"
There was so much outrage among the parents that there was an investigation launched on the school. The teacher stated that she had not run the assignment past the principal, so she was the only one to blame. She claimed that her child had no idea what many of the terms meant, despite the definitions clearly being written next to each term and her child continued to complete the assignment anyway.
But the question still remains: What would you do is your child came home with this assignment?
Take this BuzzFeed quiz if you want to find out exactly how privileged you are:
How to PROPERLY use your white privilege?
Recently, an interview was conducted with an African-American woman who had experienced white privilege first hand, in front of her ten-year-old daughter. She explains how she was in line with her daughter and her sister-in-law. Despite her sister-in-law being partially African-American, she appeared to be just as white as any other white person.
While standing in line at her local grocery store, she noticed how the white skinned, strawberry-blonde cashier was being friendly and interacting with her sister-in-law and engaging in a pleasant conversation with her. Kathleen, the sister, wrote her a check and was allowed to proceed with no trouble. Kathleen moved forward after all of her groceries were checked out, and waited for her sister off to the side.
When the woman moved up to the cash register, she noticed a drastic change in engagement and personality. The cashier did not engage in conversation with her, she did not make eye contact, nor did she exhibit any signs of interest in doing so. She, like Kathleen, wrote a check for her groceries, and the cashier went on to ask her for two forms of ID. Her daughter asked why this was happening to her, which forced her to contemplate how to handle the situation. Instead of arguing, she complied.
Complying, she gave her the two forms of ID, and the cashier pulled out a book full of people who had given the store bad checks, and checked to see if her driver's license was in the book. At this point, Kathleen walked back over and asked the cashier why she was putting her sister through all of this. The cashier responded by explaining that this is their policy, but Kathleen objected and explained how that could not be the case considering the fact she did not make her go through the same process. In turn she said, "well, I know you! You've been shopping here for years", unaware that Kathleen was this woman's sister-in-law. Kathleen pointed out that she had only moved there three months ago and that her sister has lived there for years. At this point, the two white women behind her get involved, expressing their standpoint on the injustices, which led to management getting involved. Kathleen is a prime example of how we should be using our privilege.
There is no difference between this woman and her sister-in-law other than their skin complexion, and because Kathleen is visibly lighter in tone, she experienced less trouble. But what makes Kathleen different from most others with privilege is that she used her privilege properly. She used her privilege to intervene when she saw a clear act of injustice, as opposed to making an excuse for why it happened, or accepting it for what it is, or even remaining a bystander.
So the question is: How do you properly use your white privilege?
There are too many instances where people with white privilege have made excuses for the actions of their own race. If you want to properly use your white privilege, stop making excuses for white people committing the exact same crimes as any person of color.
Acknowledge the privilege you have! Refusing to admit that you are privileged only contributes to the establishment of racial hierarchies.
Support our movements instead of trying to demean them, as if unjustified violence against the black community does not exist.
We are not asking you to fight for us; we are asking you to fight with us.
We just ask that you recognize that there is a struggle, not identify with it. There is no way for you to identify with our struggle without being a person of color yourself. Stop trying to identify with our struggle, and just recognize your privilege.