I'm White And Don't Have White Privilege

I'm White And Don't Have White Privilege

I'm privileged, but not because I am white.

I am white and I don’t have white privilege.

I was born into a middle class family; my dad usually works six days out of the week while my mom stays home and tends to the house as well as my sisters and I. We don’t go on vacation every year, we have two cars, both my sister and I have been working since high school, and the only reason my sister and I can afford to go to college is because we work hard for our grades. Still, I’ve been lectured by my peers and professors that I am in fact privileged all because I am white. Now, don’t get me wrong, I live a very blessed life, I don’t worry about where my next meal will come from, or whether or not I have a jacket to keep me warm. However, I do not attribute my blessings to “white privilege,” I attribute them to the hard work of my parents.

“White Privilege” is defined as societal privileges that white people have that non-whites do not have in social, economical, or political areas.

If you could find a more diminishing term let me know. White privilege does not exist, and if it does I sure as hell know that I, along with thousands of others, haven’t met it.

When people tell me that I live a privileged life because I am white, that I don’t, and will never know, a non-white’s struggle, I feel as though the hard work that I’ve put in to get where I want to be, the hard work my dad has put in, and the hard work that my grandparents have done, is all being belittled.

As shocking as it may seem, my dad wasn’t handed his union job. He is not given a paycheck every week because he is white, the same way his black coworkers aren’t just given a paycheck every week. They work, and they work hard.

"White Privilege" is a poor excuse used by the media to divide, and used by those who need a reason as to why they cant succeed, or why the cant get where they need to be. Yes, despite what everyone wants to believe, I have the exact same opportunities available to me as any non-white person does. Granted, there are cases, and many of them, in which its difficult for someone to pursue what they want because they have the burden of working in order to afford basic necessities, but white people face those problems too. Hardships do not discriminate, neither does illness, rape, hate, robbery or murder. Problems do not surpass white people, even if that’s what most people want to believe. Solutions do not come easier to white people, even if that is what we are told. The difference, however, is that when a setback falls upon a non-white person, society tells them that if they were white it would have been different, that this happened all because they are not white. How dare we. How dare society try to make up for the shortcoming of others by deliberately diminishing the hard work of white people? When a white person is fired, or doesn’t get the job they want, they don’t go and cry discrimination. I know that when I am not called back for a job interview I don’t blame the Indian woman who interviewed after me, I blame myself. I try to account for my shortcomings and see where I went wrong and what I can do better. I brainstorm ways to embellish my resume, and I try harder for the next time.

Not only does the term "White Privilege" denigrate the hard work of white people, but it deprecates the value of hard work that people who are not white do. When you use the term "white privilege," it sends a message out there that non-whites rarely succeed, that if they do it’s a rare occurrence attributed to a stroke of luck. Wrong. There are millions of non-whites who live the exact same life as I do, there are millions who live far worse than I do, and there are millions who live better than I do. There are non-white teachers, doctors, lawyers, managers, entertainers, athletes, accountants, chefs, and any other job you can imagine. They didn’t get there after they miraculously found a pot of gold at the end of their rainbow; they set goals, they worked hard, and they achieved what they wanted. Ben Carson did not get to become one of the top neurosurgeons and a presidential candidate all because he got lucky, Barack Obama did not happen to stumble upon presidency, and Vinod Khosla didn’t accidentally found Sun Microsystems. Hard work, determination, and perseverance got these people to where they are now. So when anyone says that ‘white privilege’ is the bane of a non-white's existence, remember you are diminishing the accomplishments of non-whites by making appear as though these people just happened to get lucky.

Martin Luther King Jr. wanted his children to be judged on the content of their character, not the color of their skin. So I ask, why in the world is it okay to judge a white person solely based on the color of their skin, rather than who they are, what they have done, and where they come from?

So yes, I have checked for my "white privilege," so has the poor white mother in the trailer park, the old white man on the street corner laying on a tattered blanket, and the hopeless college grad who can't find a job.

Nobody likes stereotypes, and that includes white people who are stereotyped as "privileged" because of our skin color. While I know people will respond to this by saying "it must be nice to be so privileged that you don't even realize your privilege," I give this general response: my white privilege is coming from a family that died in Auschwitz, it's coming from a family of immigrants, it's coming from a family that worked hard despite the odds.

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When It Comes To Guns, We Can't Fight Fire With Fire

Arming our educators is not the answer to gun violence in schools.

It has been nearly a month since 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz pulled the trigger that took the lives of 17 students and faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida. This massacre joins scores of other mass shootings in our country's history, highlighting the urgent need for protective measures against gun violence in schools and on campuses.

Speaking from the white house, President Trump has already proposed a course of action that would include training and arming teachers with guns in classrooms. While the specifics of a course of action should be open to fair debate, this idea that teachers should be required to undertake security enforcement rolls while also teaching is not only distracting, unaffordable, and learning-impairing, it's just flat out dangerous.

Guns were invented to be weapons. By design, they are killing machines. Even in the hands of “good guys” guns will not stop violence by those intending to inflict harm in the first place. More killing machines will only result in more kills. More guns, regardless of whether they are handled by trained professionals intending to protect, will only result in more gun deaths.

A school is a place where children are meant to grow and learn about the world around them. This growth can’t occur if there aren't sufficient funds to pay for learning materials, quality teachers, and other essential school resources. Intensive firearms training would not be free, the funds would have to come from somewhere and the white house has yet to propose offering states new funding.

Massive cuts to education budgets could provide the extra funds needed for these training, but at what point does quality education become less important than training an algebra teacher to fire a rifle?

Even if the funds did exist, teachers carrying concealed weapons pose an extremely high risk to school safety. Accidental misfire is always a possibility, as well as the potential for the weapons to be found by a student or another co-worker who may have mental health issues.

But even without the threat of negligent discharge or a weapon getting into the hands of the wrong person, guns create an atmosphere that is not conducive to classroom learning. A safe, positive learning environment is essential for success in school. A school is not the same as a prison. Teachers are not armed guards and students are not prisoners. Students should be focused on what is being taught rather than worrying about somebody grabbing the gun in the room.

Students should never have to wrestle with the distraction of a dangerous weapon in the classroom and neither should teachers. Law enforcement personnel are trained to carry guns with a heightened sense of alertness at all times. If educators were required to operate in this state of mind while also teaching, it would impede their ability to provide quality education.

Imagine trying to teach complex math concepts while also constantly monitoring for threats and being aware of the presence of a weapon in the room. Effective teaching is not possible in an environment where teachers are distracted by the fact that they must be prepared to execute another human being at any given moment.

Educators are not in the same line of work as law enforcement officials. Expecting a teacher to respond to a high-stress situation like a school shooting in the same way that a trained professional could is dangerous. Sure somebody might be able to shoot a gun accurately in training, but when gunfire is actually being returned it is a very different situation.

The focus should be on finding ways to preserve schools as safe learning spaces without the use of violent tactics.

Yes, there are a great many possible measures to consider and debate when it comes to protecting our schools, but arming our teachers with guns should not be one of them.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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My Personal Political Photo Response

The image I chose to represent injustice was an image I personally took at a rally at the University of Evansville this past January.

The image I chose to represent injustice was an image I personally took at a rally at the University of Evansville this past January. The rally was held by the university and the open-invite event welcomed various religious leaders within the city.

The Interfaith Rally of Support was in direct response to President Donald Trump’s proposed ban on refugees. Approximately 580 people gathered in the gardens of the university on a brisk, wintery cold January evening to stand up against hate, bigotry, and the recent executive orders of President Trump against refugees. There were many donations that were accepted and were sent to the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” It was stated to women to feel free to wear a Hijab in solidarity with our Islamic friends and simultaneously to feel free to bring signs with messages of peace, love, and support for inclusion. I have included not only an image of a certain poster that another person brought, but I have also included an image of my friend and I holding up a sign at the rally. It may be hard to visualize, but the poster that I wanted to mock this assignment off states “Build no walls to keep out others, but build a circle of love to take them in.”

To give a little context, President Donald Trump on Friday, January 27, 2017, banned nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for at least the next ninety days by executive order. The order bars all people hailing from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Those countries were named in a 2016 law concerning immigration visas as "countries of concern." The executive order also bans entry of those fleeing from war-torn Syria indefinitely. Trump also had stopped the admission of all refugees to the United States for four months. The order also calls for a review into suspending the Visa Interview Waiver Program, which allows travelers from 38 countries -- including close allies -- to renew travel authorizations without an in-person interview. Not only did this executive order drastically affect many families here in the United States, but it affected people in my small town of Evansville, IN.

I graduated from a charter school, specifically Signature School, and the diversity ratio was very progressive and differed greatly from all of the public schools around my country. At our school, 52% of the school was considered to be of white/non-Hispanic descent while the remaining 48% of the school was multi-racial. We were very proud of those statistics, right among being ranked the third most-challenging high school in the nation.

Regardless, this hit home for all of us at Signature because we would hear about many families not being able to come over to the United States deriving from those countries banned as stated above. As a school, we came together to attend the Interfaith Rally of Support and actively protested the ban by sending letters to our local congressmen. As a city, the mayor of Evansville openly spoke out against the travel ban once all of the universities and colleges released a statement condemning President Trump’s actions and orders.

This image makes me fill up with potential prosperity because it was amazing to witness the drastic out-pouring disgrace with the President’s travel ban. Not only was I in fear of being in the minority in regards to disagreeing with the ban on refugees, but I had the presumption that as conservative as Evansville was, I was fearing the approval of this ban. I was so thrilled to hear that wasn’t the case! As for my family, however, they went the opposite way in responding with potential optimistic viewpoints.

My parents were both in full support of having a non-politician, orange buffoon as our commander-in-chief. Not only did this travel ban come to the dinner table harshly, but it definitely drew a line in the sand metaphorically in regards to our political opinions and beliefs. I have been very opposed to my parent’s personal viewpoints on President Trump, but that not only put fuel on the fire, but it caused my whole family to take their opinions to Facebook turning that into a global war.

I just couldn’t personally understand how someone so powerful can make a decision on banning people from the country that has "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore" on a 150-foot statue in the most popular harbor within the United States.

It is just as if the President disregarded the symbolic significance of that and became a tyrannical leader banning a certain demographic background, on the basis of racism. As if the laws here in the United States aren’t challenging enough for outside immigrants to flee to the United States in search for prosperous guidance, but to reside in the “land of the free and home of the brave.”

I saw families are torn because their family in the middle eastern countries were being blocked by the United States government – the country built on the notion of accessing a better life and the American “dream.”

When asked about my personal relationship with this, I can only respond with the fact on how diverse of a friend group I have. That may sound very pretentious, but I only applaud myself for being so open and accepting of other people and their beliefs. It may seem insignificant, but being open to diversity isn’t something that is widely accepted. The whole fact that President Trump, a borderline racist man, got the most powerful position in the world by the electoral college here in the United States is proof enough for the statement just made.

Being apart of the majority population here in the United States, it does take something to just being able to speak up for the racism and belittling of the minority population in the United States. I can infer that me going to Signature School has widely adopted me to be able to see past certain obstacles and strictly focus on the beneficial factors of loving one another.

In summation, not only did the Interfaith Rally of Support affect me on a personal level, but it also had an impact on my political beliefs. At the beginning of Donald Trump’s bid for the office, the things he spoke hit me on a personal level because I thought, at the time, that not having an actual politician would be beneficial to the oversight bureaucratic slang. After seeing the two candidates up close the months before the election, it was clear to me that having someone with absolutely no political background and such boisterous discriminatory comments would be awful for the United States.

Being encompassed in the rally by many liberals who can see straight through President Trump’s lies, corruption and propaganda.

Cover Image Credit: Scott Brenner / Flickr

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