Today's lesson, Racism. If you see something written here that you’ve said or done, use it as an opportunity. Take it as a wake up call and make the decision to grow, change and be conscious of your own privilege. Remember, I am not a speaker for the entirety of a people.
The biggest problem (I believe) with White Privilege is that white people are born with it so they never have to acknowledge it as a “Thing.” There was never a day when they didn’t have it. They never had to live without it and then wake up one day to see a package of white privilege in the mail.
Think about it like your eye color. When you are walking down the street, you aren’t thinking “I have brown eyes” you are just seeing. You aren’t thinking “My brown eyes are seeing this yellow cab.” You just see it. The difference is that people might comment on your eyes. You only think about it when they are topic of conversation or when you decided that you want to get contacts to change them. Otherwise, it is unlikely that you are spending any real time of the day thinking about the color of your eyes.
White Privilege is not only something you don’t think about, it’s also something that many people don’t discuss. Not only is it not being discussed outside of specific spaces, many people aren’t even aware of the term. Sure, here on Tumblr you’ve heard it. You might hear it every day depending on who you follow. Still part of it’s design is just…to be there. To be there with no discussion. To not go away once pointed out. To be something that a white person can chose to either ignore, deny, acknowledge or feel guilty about. As a white person, you get to make the decision on how to deal with it. The only thing you can’t do is give it away. Even if you wanted to.
This leads me to the things white privilege allows that you likely don’t consider. The mind set of a Nation.
Entitlement- This is a big one. Also the most fucked up one. Having any kind of privilege, ANY kind and also feeling like you are entitled to things that the non-privileged person has or knows, is shameful. Now, to make this easier for some of you to swallow, I am going to put this example on myself. I am a cis, straight woman. Yes, I am half black and that will always be a factor. However, if I were dumb enough to think that being “cis” and being “straight” aren’t privileged things in this country, I would deserve the shit storm I would get for saying it in front of certain company. Now, let’s say I were to interrupt a conversation between two gay people who are talking about the fact that they were discriminated against. What if I jump into this conversation to ask questions. Maybe they are talking about how they were at a store and while looking for an item, the owner yelled “Get out of here you F****ts.”
Now, I hear this and speak up to say “Well, what were you doing when that happened?” This seems like a fair question to some of you, right? Thing is, it’s not. The question assumes that the two people were doing something to “Deserve” this treatment. Next, let’s pretend that they actually answer the question. They say “Nothing, I was looking for a blah blah blah.” I then say “Maybe the owner thought you were doing something wrong.” This is an even bigger problem. This comment again assumes that the two people “Deserved” to be treated this way AND it allows the owner to be the innocent misunderstood victim. Finally, I say “Women get discriminated against all the time, it’s not just gay people.” This is the most fucked up thing ever. It both belittles and ignores their issue, it turns the conversation from them to me AND it still allows the owner to be forgiven of his actions. I had no business in this conversation in the first place. Every single thing I said after inserting myself into the conversation was hateful and offensive and in the end, I justified the hate fueled actions of a shit human being AND I made THEIR PAIN about me.
This is every day with white privilege. I don’t mean occasionally, I mean every day. All day. Some of you will read that and think, I don’t do that. The thing is that you likely don’t even realize it. It is a part of you. The entitlement is there. It’s something that you aren’t conscious of. Even the best ally, does this at times.
You get to want to live in the past. I’ve already covered this.
Being safe means something different for you. One of the things that white people take for granted is safety. I don’t mean that you don’t think about safety, I mean that you have safety reassurance. This doesn’t mean that you are always safe. This doesn’t mean that you are always comfortable. What it does mean is that you get to believe that the police will only arrest you if you’ve done something wrong. You get to believe that if you call the police, you as the victim, will be heard. (I know some damn foe Feminist is going to read that last line and say “Not rape victims.” To you I say fuck you and please re-read the above statements about entitlement. Also, you are not a feminist) You get to see the police as “Good people keeping the city safe.”
PoC don’t have that. Think about this, what would your world be like if you woke up every single day knowing that if someone hurt you, calling the police would not help you? What would your world be like if you knew that the police could very well be the people that hurt you? What would your world be like if in exchange for causing you mental and physical harm, the police are held up as “Kind people doing their jobs and keeping everyone safe” and for all this, you get the joy of knowing that part of YOUR taxes are going to pay their rent?
How would you feel if you knew that there was literally no safe place? Not even in your own home. Not in your own car. Not anywhere. Not ever. Living a life feeling unsafe 100% of the time all the while knowing that the “Protectors” are your biggest fear.
In addition to all of this, you also get to hear and see conversation after conversation and news program after news program that say YOU are the problem. Police are just “Doing their jobs.”
It’s something you don’t have to consider because for you, it isn’t a consideration.
You get to know the truth but twist it so that you become the victor for your comment. Ever heard someone say “The jails are filled with N-word?” Well, they are. Except you have the luxury of overlooking the fact that black people get convicted of the same crimes while white people go free. Black people get pulled over more, get searched more, get physically assaulted more and get penalized more (not a little bit more a LOT more. Over 60% MORE) for doing less. These things are of no concern because the important thing is that you are able to say “The jail is filled with blacks.” Seemingly, that means black folks are more likely to be criminals, right? That lie serves it’s purpose so why bother to address it?
You can change the size and the affect of racism to suit you. When you are being accused of it, racism is a “Card” that PoC use to complain. You aren’t racist. Not now, not ever. However, if you need to make a point about something else, you use racism as an example. This is one of the sickest tools of white privilege.
You can do nothing and have that be the right thing to do. You can hear the white person beside you say something racist, say nothing. Later tell your black friend that you thought the white person was wrong and feel like your actions were just. They are not. Your silence is acceptance.
After a long hard day at work, you can come home and relax. Some of the things included under white privilege are things like relaxation. I’ve already addressed the never ending fear but what about other things? Things that seem unimportant? Well, first off, they are unimportant because YOU have never been without them and second, they are unimportant because YOU know that you never WILL be without them. Take television for example. I imagine it is great to come home and watch your favorite tv character get into some antics that are all cleaned up by the end of the half hour. I wish I knew what that was like. You see, YOU get “Shananagins.” You take them for granted because they’ve always been there for you. When there is a black based comedy, there seems to be this rule that at least every other episode has to be “Race related.” The only exceptions I can think of are The Cosby Show and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. However, even the Fresh Prince had an episode about “Driving while black” and several episodes about “What it meant to BE black” Remember when Will and Carlton were trying to get into that Frat? Yeah, me too. How about the very first episode, do you remember what that was about? Think real hard.
Non-White people don’t get to just be silly or funny or fun. The only way we get to be this is if we are the token on a white dominated show. An all (or predominantly) Person of Color show, MUST talk about race. There is no break for us. There is no “Let’s just be corky 100% of the time.”
This list could go on for days. I may write an addition at a later date that is just a long ass list. For now, I will ask those that already have their fingers ready to go to “Justify” or make this conversation about them, go and promptly A) Unfollow B) Eat some glass and C) Go fuck yourself. These aren’t multiple choice, I would like you to do all three. Thank you for your cooperation.