I’ve often addressed the issue of privilege, particularly white privilege (since I’ve come to understand just how much of it I have…and even white people less privileged than me have…in the 16 years I’ve had a black partner/wife and a biracial son…and in the past 7 years, a biracial daughter, too).
I’ve done this at this blog, I’ve done it on Twitter, and I’ve done it in responses to various people’s articles and posts complaining about being “made to feel guilty for being white.”
First, I’d like to direct you to this web page my wife tweeted about yesterday, which is pure gold and if you read this and still don’t get why denying privilege and/or telling people in various groups that they’re wrong about their own experiences is a bad thing, perhaps you never will get it:
Now, back to my own mini-rant…
I’m not saying white people (and I’m going to pick them because they’re the largest and most privileged group in the United States, particularly the heterosexual ones, but this applies to anyone who is privileged in comparison to someone else)…well, I don’t think they should be guilted per se. But I do think they need to pay attention, get out of their own boxes, listen to others, educate themselves and stop making assumptions. In short, white folks do need reminders about their privilege, because it clearly hasn’t sunk in. America’s going back to bad habits (or worse habits) and everyone who’s “other” is getting shat upon instead of people shitting on the government, business and social forces that allow discrimination, bigotry and all their cousins to exist.
Too many people think there is equal opportunity and fair treatment in developed parts of the world, particularly the United States, Canada and Europe. They think that racism is dead. But looking at the rates of arrests of non-whites, non-white profiling and harsher punishments for crimes by non-whites, those figures alone show a picture that proves society is not fair to people of color (blacks and Latinos, in particular). Also, housing and employment continue to be areas of huge inequities. Oh, and education.
And yes, I have tons of examples if you really want them. Call them anecdotal and dismiss them because of that if you like, but I think 16 years of seeing this shit up close as a white person with brown people in his life makes me more an expert on discrimination than anyone who plugs their ears (conservative or liberal) and says, “I’m not like that!” or “That’s not true!”
Change comes through awareness. And I mean awareness of the people who perpetuate the bullshit. Who continue to benefit from privilege and never work to share it with others and make sure others can have the same access. When we are aware some people aren’t treated fairly, we can begin to chisel away at racism, homophobia, sexism and all the rest.
It’s the only way. Be aware of your part in it. I have to be, because it’s the morally correct thing to do, and I try to do my small part. Please do yours, too.