Over the past months, watching the inequity of the COVID-19 response, the murder and protests of the death of George Floyd, and listening to fellow white people, strangers and friends alike, respond to it all, I have felt such discouragement at how few understand or are even willing to acknowledge their great privilege.
So, in honor of the passing of John Lewis, one of my heroes, and someone I could gladly listen to all the live-long day, I’ve prepared a brief white privilege primer in hopes of gently nudging those who may need it down the path of greater understanding.
Way back when I was getting my teaching certification (more than 20 years ago!!), I received a publication by Peggy McIntosh that opened my eyes to the wider world of racism and white privilege. I’m not including the entirety, but if you’d like to see it, click here.
These examples of white privilege cross the spectrum. I encourage you to read further and imagine yourself experiencing each one, perhaps on a daily basis or over a lifetime. The struggle is REAL and people are TIRED.
- When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is. Read about white men dominating the telling of history.
- I can go into a hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can cut my hair. Read about discrimination based on hair.
- Whether I use credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability. Read about the racial wealth gap.
- I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them. Read about lynching and the whitewashing of history.
- I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection. Read about The Talk.
- I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
- If a cop stops me, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race. Read about racial profiling.
- I can arrange my activities so that I will never have to experience feelings of rejection owing to my race.
- I have no difficulty finding neighborhoods where people approve of our household. Read about Redlining, housing discrimination, and devaluation of assets.
- I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me. Read about discrimination in healthcare. How it relates to COVID-19.