I woke up this morning to photos and videos of Minneapolis burning. Riots over the death of George Floyd led to arson, looting, and destruction of property. It’s so sad, most of all because of a needless death, once again at the hands of the police. The video of him being restrained by the police is very difficult to watch and raises a lot of questions.
Race relations are again forefront in discussions across the US. Part of that discussion is around white privilege, or the lack thereof. Do you understand what white privilege is? One of my new friends, Lori Gallagher Witt, wrote an excellent post today explaining white privilege. With her permission, I’m sharing it here.
“I’m white and I’ve struggled, so white privilege is a myth!”
One more time for the people in the back, white privilege does not mean that because you’re white, you’ve never struggled. It means your struggles are not BECAUSE you’re white.
If you’re straight and you struggle, it’s not because you’re straight. Queer people have the same struggles you do, but they also struggle because they’re queer in a world that favors people who are straight.
If you’re a man and you struggle, it’s not because you’re a man. Others have the same struggles you do, but they also struggle because they’re not men in a world that favors people who are men.
And if you’re white and you struggle, it’s not because you’re white. People of color have the same struggles you do, but they also struggle because they’re people of color in a world that favors people who are white.
…straight people, white people, and/or male people have power that those who are NOT straight, white, and/or male do NOT have…
It really is that simple. Are there exceptions? Sure. But straight people, white people, and/or male people have power that those who are NOT straight, white, and/or male do NOT have.
Privilege is not worrying that your “ethnic” sounding name will get your job application tossed or that your “ethnic” hair will get you fired.
Privilege is not having to sweat every election because the next crop of lawmakers might get enough power to strip away your bodily autonomy, the validity of your marriage, or your right to not get fired because your boss doesn’t approve of your “lifestyle,”
Privilege is not fearing for your life every time you get pulled over and not needing to have serious discussions with your children about how to keep the police from killing them.
Privilege does not mean your life is easy and that you never struggle. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It doesn’t mean you should be ashamed, or that you have no right to complain about the injustices or disadvantages you DO experience.
It just means that you are exempt from experiencing certain systemic disadvantages that other people are not. Some of those disadvantages are frustrating (microaggressions). Some can literally mean the difference between life and death.
When someone tells you to check your privilege, they’re telling you to remember everything I just wrote here. It means there are things in this world that you don’t have to worry about.
It means there are very real problems in this world and in this country that are not about you.
Lori Gallagher Witt
(As always, okay to share, but please don’t remove my name.)