How to Stop Having White Privilege Ignorance

03 March 2017

[Content Note: Racism]

Are you white? If you answered yes, this lesson is for you.

This is Part 3 in a series I like to call, “How to Be Less of a Jerk: A Crash Course on -Isms.” Be sure to study up with the other lessons on not being such a jerk: here are Part 1 and Part 2.

Despite mounds of undeniable evidence and tons of analysis explaining white privilege, white people still can’t deal with talking about racism. It is long past time to destroy that sensitivity. We can’t let fellow white folks sit pretty in the ignorant bubble of white supremacy. Ignoring white privilege, whether you will admit it or not, adds to a long history of exploitation and oppression of non-whites.

Stop Dismissing Racists

As Trump’s presidency spins out of control, fewer people are telling me to keep my criticisms about him to myself. Unfortunately, they do still tell me to stop “making everything about race” as I try to challenge my own white privilege. They say to not go overboard with accusations of racism. They say to calm down and wait to see what happens. Just say “sorry” for upsetting family and friends. Get over it. If I want, I can play nice and live in the safe walls of a white echo chamber where people mediate bigotry by dismissing it as a difference of opinion, because “racist” is word reserved only for the annals of the distant past when slave owners sold humans like livestock.

It’s been surreal, in a nightmarish kind of way, to watch it unfold. I can’t help but wonder if those “Make America Great Again” hats (made in Vietnam, China and Bangladesh) are cutting off circulation to key parts of the brain used for processing information. Then I remember: this vile racism is nothing new. Now that racism is on full display, we’re just seeing it more. I have never had to feel racial oppression, because I live in a world made for people who look like me. A flippant ableist comment about stupidity is a lazy way for us to dismiss racists so we don’t have to come to terms with the racism pervasive in our communities.

Is Resistance a Privilege?

I recently had a conversation with someone who is avidly against the new POTUS said, “I’m not going to let Trump ruin my life.” I agreed with them. Then I realized: that kind of statement is a privileged one. This is a level of privilege many people (yes, white people) don’t understand: to know that with enough strength of will, your life will not be destroyed by the system. This is a problem that crosses political lines and is historically based and culturally rooted.

I can hear the annoyed sighs and distant rumble of discontent among my white readers, and the lesson isn’t even finished. Hold onto your indignation for a moment. Privilege is not something to be ashamed of or to hate yourself for having. You’re not a bad person for having privilege (there’s probably a lot of other reasons you’re a bad person; ask your frenemies to solve that conundrum). However, you do need to accept that this unequal system unfairly benefits you. It benefits me too. I have never lived in a world where my skin color was a disadvantage for anything besides sunbathing.

This is just a snippet, to read the whole article check it out at Wear Your Voice.

Kristance Harlow

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