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.
When you are at a place in your life were you have decided to make a conscious effort to be a decent human being and treat others as equals, you might wonder what your first step should be. I have thought about this for a while. My answer has changed several times and as I get older, I also see the world in terms that are more broad. Right now, today, my answer is to start from privilege.
Start with whatever privilege you have. No matter who you are, you are likely to have some sort of privilege. There are so many privileges out there that I would be shocked to find that there was someone (at least in America) that had none at all.
Figure out what your privileges are.
Next, comes something that many people seem struggle with. Figuring out what privilege isn’t. This is where I see people trip themselves up time and time again. Figuring out what they “Aren’t” is very important if you are on the road to decency.
Here is a short, but not complete, list of some of the things that privilege isn’t:
In racial terms, the two most commonly discussed privileges are “white privilege” and “Light skin privilege.” These are both very real privileges. Both of these privileges allow the privileged to have certain amounts of leeway in their lives. Both of these privileges allow a certain amount of freedom. One privilege is going to offer more than the other but that isn’t what we are talking about today.
I believe that it is important to start with knowing and understanding the privileges that you have because it can help avoid a few very crucial pit falls.
Example: A few days ago I saw someone write an entire post about how white privilege wasn’t real. To help prove their theory, they posted a picture of a homeless white man. Everything they said within the post was about the difficult things they’ve gone through in their own lives.
You may read that and shake your head at how silly this rational is. The fact is, this person believes whole heartily that because they haven’t had an easy life, white privilege is not real. This is a problem.
If you are incapable of understanding that your privilege doesn’t suddenly free you from negative life happenings, you will also be incapable of empathy for those who have also gone through things.
You can see this manifest itself, more often than not, in those that will try to play “Oppression Tennis” with you. The problem is, they are incapable of seeing beyond their own vision. Even though they’ve picked up a racket and hit the ball in your direction, it often looks like you are hitting a bolder and they are hitting a pebble.
How many times have you seen this conversation?
“I’m poor, I can barely pay my rent. How am I privileged?”
“Privilege doesn’t mean you are rich.”
“Well if I am so privileged, how come I had to pay for college? Where is my scholarship?”
This conversation continues back and forth. This is annoying but there is a far worse version of this same conversation.
“Eighteen Black men were killed last night. There is evidence that it was racially motivate”
“I was the only white kid in an all Black school. I was beat up for being white all the time.”
“Are you comparing the murders of eighteen people to that one time you got beat up?”
“All I am saying is that I have been racially profiled too. I am sick of you saying I have white privilege when I have been discriminated against too.”
You NEVER want to be the person saying these things. This is a sign that you are incapable of empathy. I can’t think of anything less human than that. Know what your privileges are. Know what those privileges afford you. Understand how your privilege can affect others, even if you aren’t actively trying to “Hurt” anyone. Without this understanding, you will not be capable of seeing others in the situations they are actually in. You will only be able to put their situations in terms of you. There is nothing decent about that.