Intent and White Privilege Keeps Whites Out of Jail

19 September 2016

The common saying that “it’s the thought that counts” is supposed to apply to gift-giving, but it was destined to morph — as all language does — and has been used to justify the continuation of a broken criminal justice system. Not everyone’s thoughts count, though. Intent is determined by the powerful — and benefits the powerful, or those who least threaten the status quo.

What is privilege?

White privilege provides a protective buffer of assumptions that is not given to people of color, especially not to black people. To better understand how this functions, think of whiteness as a protective benefit-of-the-doubt shield. To level up the shield, you have to be given more layers of privilege.

For example, three additional layers of privilege would be able-bodied, cis male and in in the one percent. The kicker is, no one has any say in the shield they start with. Less-protective shields suffer more damage more frequently because they are weaker against accusations of ill intent. Higher-level shields have so many automatic protections that they do not have to worry about the same dangers as lower-level shields. A person and their shield are nearly inseparable.

A cornerstone of the criminal justice system in America is that everyone is (supposed to be) considered innocent until proven guilty. We can’t forget about the shield, because it doesn’t disappear in the courtroom.

This is an exerpt, continue reading on Wear Your Voice Mag

Kristance Harlow

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