Let me start by saying I don’t claim to understand your problems, or anyone else’s. I have enough of my own problems to deal with. Also, I am not just some sympathizer jumping on a bandwagon. So hear me out.
When I was 12, I got beaten up pretty badly at school and wound up in the hospital, with a skull fracture and damage to my inner ear. Long story short: I’m white, he’s black. I was a scrawny 7th grader, he was an average size 8th grader. After spending a couple days in the hospital and 2 weeks of recovery at home, I was afraid to go back to school. I was afraid to be white, afraid of my black classmates. I saw only the bad. The only black people I wasn’t afraid of were raised by whites. In high school, I stayed in a mostly white crowd, and black kids made me nervous.
Let’s get back to the meat of all this. I’m white. I’m not Black, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim, Gay, or otherwise. I have been teased, beaten; because I was the scrawny kid, the hyper kid, the smart-ass. Discrimination is real. But it was never because I was the white kid. I’ve been turned down for jobs I was more than worthy of, for reasons other than because I’m white; or for that matter male, or Christian.
I know struggle, but I don’t know the struggle of the Muslim in America. Or the Lesbian. Nor that of any other race. I don’t know the Black struggle. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Racism is real. But this isn’t about racism, it’s about white priviledge.
What does it mean, white priviledge? To have it usually means to not know it, but that is not always the case. The man who talks about racism and discrimination to debunk it? Yeah, he’s got it. The white woman who can’t get welfare and assumes it’s because she’s not black. She’s got it.
White priviledge isn’t about whites being racist, per se; it is more about our lack of exposure to racism and the subsequent ignorance we have to the struggle of non-whites. Not just Blacks, but all skin colors outside of white. Assuming that the struggle for another race or culture isn’t real, can’t be real, because you don’t see it. That is white priviledge. Assuming something for any non-white is a certain way, that is white priviledge. Being raised in a lifestyle with minimal struggle, no exposure to poverty, not knowing racism, having confidence that you will get by and that if you can do it, anyone can…. that could be white priviledge too. Its not inherently bad. To be blissfuly ignorant of the hate or injustice of the world is not a reason to assume it doesn’t exist. Some people use their priviledge to advocate for the less fortunate.
You can’t debunk white priviledge by trying to address racism, by trying to quote this statistic or that report that says there’s now this magical equality that has suddenly appeared in the workplace or the school. To debunk white priviledge is to prove it exists.
Back to me. Even with permanent partial hearing loss, I have outgrown my fears. I welcome friends of all walks of life. And when some tells me they’ve experienced racism in their life, or they’ve witness a white person given better treatment, I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt. I’ve accepted that just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. It’s not my place to doubt. It’s not your place to doubt.