In light of recent events, the term "white privilege" has been thrown around quite a lot lately, and I most often hear white people contest with things like "I grew up poor! Don't tell me I was privileged!" "Affirmative action just gives away benefits to black people!" "Minorities get all the scholarships! Everything is prejudice against my sons because they're white males!"
I want to make something very clear: white privilege has nothing to do with "wealth or handouts" and everything to do with the fact that you are white. Formerly, "privileged" was used to describe someone as having a lot of advantages due to a wealthy family, but that's no longer the case.
Here are a few examples of reverse racism arguments I typically hear:
"Well if they wouldn't act suspicious or break laws then they wouldn't get pulled over to begin with."
According to a study published in 2006 by the US Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, white drivers were more likely to be pulled over by police for speeding but less likely than either Black or Hispanic drivers to receive a ticket for it. As well as this, among the 11 percent of young male drivers that are pulled over and physically searched or have their car searched, Hispanic men are searched at two times and Black men three times as often as white men, even with as little as only 20 percent of arrests at traffic stops having viable evidence for an arrest. Not to be forgotten is the fact that during traffic stops, Black drivers are more likely than both Hispanic and white drivers to not be told the reason for which they were pulled over to begin with.
These are the rates for something as routine as a traffic stop. Don't even get me started on speculation of more serious crimes.
"Colleges hand out all the scholarships to minorities because of these affirmative action programs! That's prejudice against white people! That is racism!"
I feel like the evidence for this one is just so completely indisputable that this shouldn't even be an argument. In a 2011 paper published by the publisher of Fastweb.com and FinAid.org, it was reported that Caucasian students makeup 62 percent of the student population, but are awarded 76 percent of merit-based financial aid. A white student is 40 percent more likely to receive scholarships than minorities.
I want you to keep something in mind: an affirmative action scholarship program is no different than any other scholarship program in that it expects the selected students to uphold certain requirements. Like any other merit-based awards, they're expected to maintain a certain GPA (typically above a 2.5 - 3.0), and good behavior, as well as oftentimes attend seminars, join extracurriculars, and get in a set number of service hours to show involvement on campus and within the community. So don't think they're cut any slack just because it's an affirmative action program. They're working just as hard as — if not harder than — any other student with scholarships.
There is absolutely zero evidence for any person to be able to make a claim that there is any sort of prejudice against why are people in college.
"Slavery ended 200 years ago. We don't owe them anything."
Oh, no. The ratification of the 13th Amendment in 1865 did not, by any means, end the mistreatment of African Americans. We can't forget that it wasn't until just 66 years ago that integration of schools began, and even then, segregation remained, as the Black and white populations had separate water fountains, bathrooms, public transit, restaurants, and so many other things that those of us who weren't around at the time couldn't even fathom. For many of us, our own parents and grandparents lived through and experienced the Civil Rights Movement. Actually, the Civil Rights Act that President Johnson signed a decade following the integration of schools was put in place to do away with the segregation that was established by Jim Crow Laws(if you don't know who Jim Crow is, you will in just a moment).
If you sincerely believe that racism ended with the Civil Rights Movement, then you are making the blatant decision to be blind and ignorant to the reality that is society in America.
"Blackface is funny! Comedians should be allowed to do it. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."
Let me put this into perspective for you: you're enslaved by another race of people, you're treated as less than human, you're lynched at the drop of a hat, and now, there's this up-and-coming form of entertainment gaining traction with white people called minstrel shows and the creation of a famed character named Jim Crow. Minstrel shows began around the 1830s and were "comedy" skits in which a white person would dress in tattered clothing and color his face dark with shoe polish or burnt cork. In these performances, actors would imitate and mock the slaves of the period, portraying them as ignorant, lazy, hypersexual, and likely to commit crimes, thereby creating stereotypes that are perpetuated in society to this very day.
And let me make this clear: this began while African Americans were still enslaved, and it continued for over a century, well after the ratification of the 13th Amendment. In fact, it carried over into the film industry and onto the big screen. Shirley Temple was known to work with actors who donned blackface, or would sometimes wear the sad getup herself. Yes, that's right, America's sweetheart, "Animal Crackers in My Soup" girl.
"Black history just isn't that relevant to American history. There's no need to teach all about that in school. They were just brought here as slaves."
And white people came here as imperialists. The land we are walking on is stolen land, land that belonged to Native Americans who held it sacred. White European nations ventured to the Americas, killed off the native populations, raped their women, riddled the people with diseases, forced them off their land, demanded they convert to Christianity and took it upon themselves to "civilize" the natives under what they called the White Man's Burden. And to make matters even worse, with the rise of the film industry, they used the popularity of TV and cinema in the early-mid 1900s to portray Native Americans as "savages" and "cold-blooded killers" of the white man. FYI: white people are not the good guys. It's about time we teach the truth rather than white-wash history and make everything Eurocentric, while we paint white men as the heroes.
And what of Black history and culture? A lot can be said for what the Black population did for pop culture alone. Rock 'n roll? Everybody knows The King, Elvis Presley. But do you know who invented the genre? Little Richard, a homosexual Black man who is widely known for his insane piano riffs, and Chuck Berry, a Black guitarist known to have influenced such stars as The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards and AC/DC's Angus Young. The influences of traditional slave songs alone can be heard in country, jazz, R&B, and other genres, along with the rise of the rap and hip-hop genres.
And let's not forget:
Underrepresentation or poor representation of minorities in everything from the media to entertainment, to children's books, whereas a white person can find a picture of someone that looks like them in any magazine or catalog, on any TV show or movie screen, on a postcard, or anything else.
The amount of racial profiling of blacks and other minorities in public that white people don't have to deal with.
White people can easily hide blemishes or small injuries with the flesh-colored bandages that are sold on the market, whereas they're more noticeable on POC because they don't match their skin.
Speaking of not matching their skin: many makeup brands don't have adequate shade range for the Black community.
It is incredibly easy for white people in the US to arrange to be in the company of people of their race, whether that be where they work, the friends they make, or places they visit. For minorities, that isn't so simple.
With the awareness that Black Lives Matter has brought to discrimination and racism, it has also brought attention to white privilege. I believe now is as good of a time as ever for us to acknowledge the difference in how society views the white population as opposed to its unfair, negative opinions of BIPOC. I may not be black, but I recognize the differences. I see you, I hear you, I care for you. I know you're hurting, and I'm hurting for you. I love you, and I want you to know that our generation will not stop, we will not give up until this is over. No justice, no peace.