Today, I was in my tutorial class listening to my teachers assistant discuss the topic of embedded knowledge and white privilege. As a class, we began to deconstruct the topic of white privilege and to my dismay, a few students decided that was the chance to express their feeling surrounding the topic and how unfairly the term ‘white privilege’ marginalized them. I truly could not believe my ears. Marginalize who? What type of hardship has the white race ever endured? We were discussing the reality that white people have an upper hand in society and yet they managed to make a case for us to pity them. I could not help but to laugh out loud. “Ridiculous”, I said out loud. I was not going to allow them to paint themselves as victims when they truly are not. And, that essentially was the origin for this blog post.
In Peggy McIntosh’s article, ‘White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack’ which we were discussing she explains that white privilege refers to something inherent. It is understood as something you were born with rather than something based on merit. As a black student, I was continuously told that if I worked hard enough, I could one day be successful, but little was I told that there would be a glass ceiling boxing me into a certain level of success and essentially hindering my process of every being more than what was expected. So, to hear some of my classmate turn the discussion into a pity party and state that the ideology of ‘white privilege’ should be deemed as discriminatory seemed quite insultive.
For they have no idea how it is to be black,and living in a world of white privilege. To me, white privilege is something as simple as being able to walk into a grocery store and find any hair products without a hassle. White privilege is being able to confidently turn on the television and see people that represent you as not just a token minority or the reason for the news. White privilege is being able to walk into a thrift shop and freely choice to buy second hand clothes and not have your decision being attributed to my economic situation or my race. White privilege is the ability to not be put down by terms such as ‘you people’.
White privilege is the capability to have a kid not fear of being labeled as a burden or leech to society or even be labeled as solely just someones ‘baby mama’. White privilege is being about to walk into a store freely without associates following you around presuming you are a criminal. White privilege is being able to be appreciated for my mind or talents rather than having to sell sexuality first to get your attention. These are things and just a few things that a white person could never, ever experience, or even being to fathom.
The sad reality is that white privilege will never go away because these people do not want to ever give up their privilege. They may write articles and articles about how to debunk or critically address the reasons behind it, but that is as far as it goes. The topic of “White privilege” is not suppose to be an insult or some sort of blame game to guilt white people to feel bad about themselves, but rather it is there to invoke liability for this unspoken privilege and help get rid of it in whatever way we can. Until then, it will always be us versus white people.
Let’s not be blind to the invisible system of privilege. Let’s attempt to break the barriers and stand up what is wrong.