We all experience the world in different ways, and we will all have different experiences and levels of privilege depending on what area of equality we are looking at. Understanding the unearned benefits of having a White identity is key in challenging inequality, enabling us to recognize the issues and be part of the required change. Recognizing privilege is an excellent first step on the journey for equality. What are some examples of white privilege?
- Never being asked to speak on behalf of all White people
- Being able to drive a nice car without worrying about being stopped by the police
- Ability to criticize the government without being seen as an outsider
- When moving to a new area expecting that new neighbors will be neutral or pleasant to me
- Shopping alone without being followed or harassed
- Turning on the television or opening the front page of a newspaper and seeing people of my race widely represented
- Not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection (this one hits hard)
Here are some examples of practical ways to improve:
- Take time to learn about unconscious bias and reflect on your own views. We all have our own preconceived ideas, prejudices and assumptions, and it is our responsibility to take note of these, question and challenge them.
- Be open to conversations around privilege. It can feel uncomfortable to recognize how society implicitly benefits whites over others, but remember it is possible to be privileged in one area of life and not in another, and that in recognizing your own privilege you can then use it positively to be an ally and help remove barriers for others.
- Be honest about mistakes. We will all make mistakes, and the natural response is to be defensive. Be honest with yourself and apologize when you need to.
- Sit with your discomfort. Any discomfort you feel about your own prejudice, privilege, or the mistakes you’ve made will not be close to the discomfort experienced by targets of discrimination. Sit with it, acknowledge it, and then work out how you can turn your discomfort into positive action.
What can I do to help?
- Be mindful of how you express your feelings on racial injustice. Saying how ‘shocked’ you are tells people that despite centuries of abuse that predates your life and seeing the countless incidents of systemic racial profiling and police abuse, you have not been paying attention or have not cared up until this point.
- Do not assume that any Black person, no matter how well you know them, is willing to discuss the current protests. It is an inherently tiring, touchy and draining subject that have permeated Black lives so there is fear associated with this issue.
- Be mindful of posting images or videos of protest or injustices. Do so with the understanding that what you are posting contains violent imagery.
- There are different forms of activism. Please do not feel guilty or obligated to show your solidarity specifically by physically going to a protest event. There are several organizations you can give to. You can also take this time to find more creators and journalists of color who can help provide better education for allyship.
- One of the most helpful thing anyone can do is challenge their own personal biases and privileges. Ask the uncomfortable questions on why people are angry rather than focusing on the fact that they are angry.
- Black Lives Matter, so educate yourselves and remember that this battle must also include black women, children, LGBTQIA+ people, elderly people, people with disabilities–everyone.
Most Importantly: What should I do with my white privilege?
- Teach other white folks the barriers to success for POC
- Promise to listen to and amplify the voices of the POC
- Be more than just “non racist” but actively antiracist
- Confront racial injustices even when it’s uncomfortable