What I Said When My White Friend Asked for My Black Opinion on White Privilege

Saturday, July 23, 2016 - 5:30 am

What I Said When My White Friend Asked for My Black Opinion on White Privilege

Yesterday, I was tagged in a post by an old high school friend, asking me and a few others a very public, direct question about white privilege and racism. I feel compelled to publish not only his query but also my response to it, as it may be a helpful discourse for more than just a handful of folks on Facebook.
Here’s his post:

“To all of my black or mixed-race FB friends, I must profess a blissful ignorance of this “white privilege” which I’m apparently guilty of possessing. Not being able to fully put myself in the shoes of someone from a background/race/religion/gender/nationality/body type that differs from my own makes me part of the problem, according to what I’m now hearing.

Despite my treating everyone with respect and humor my entire life (as far as I know), I’m somehow complicit in the misfortune of others. I’m not saying I’m color blind, but whatever racism/sexism/other-ism my life experience has instilled in me stays within me, and is not manifested in the way I treat others (which is not the case with far too many, I know).

So that I may be enlightened, can you please share with me some examples of institutional racism that have made an indelible mark upon you? If I am to understand this, I need people I know personally to show me how I’m missing what’s going on. Personal examples only. I’m not trying to be insensitive; I only want to understand (but not from the media). I apologize if this comes off as crass or offends anyone.”

Here’s my response:

Hi Jason,
First off, I hope you don’t mind that I’ve quoted your post and made it part of mine. I think the heart of what you’ve asked of your friends of color is extremely important and I think my response needs much more space than as a reply on your feed. I truly thank you for wanting to understand what you are having a hard time understanding.
Coincidentally, over the last few days, I have been thinking about sharing some of the incidents of prejudice/racism I’ve experienced in my lifetime (in fact, I just spoke with my sister Lesa about how to best do this yesterday) because I realized many of my friends, especially the white ones, have no idea what I’ve experienced/dealt with unless they were present (and aware) when it happened.
There are two reasons for this:

1.) Because not only as a human being do I suppress the painful and uncomfortable in an effort to make it go away, but I was also taught within my community (I was raised in the ‘70s and ‘80s — it’s shifted somewhat now) and by society at large NOT to make a fuss, speak out, or rock the boat. To just “deal with it,” lest more trouble follow (which, sadly, it often does).

2.) Fear of being questioned or dismissed with “Are you sure that’s what you heard?” or “Are you sure that’s what they meant?” and being angered and upset all over again by well-meaning but hurtful and essentially unsupportive responses.

So, again, I’m glad you asked, because I really want to answer. But as I do, please know a few things first:

1.) This is not even close to the whole list. I’m cherry picking because none of us has all day.

2.) I’ve been really lucky. Most of what I share below is mild compared to what others in my family and community have endured.
3.) I’m going to go in chronological order so you might begin to glimpse the tonnage and why what many white folks might feel is a “Where did all of this come from?” moment in society has been festering individually and collectively for the LIFETIME of pretty much every black or brown person living in America today, regardless of wealth or opportunity.

4.) Some of what I share covers sexism, too. Intersectionality is another term I’m sure you’ve heard and want to put quotes around, but it’s a real thing, too, just like white privilege. But you’ve requested a focus on personal experiences with racism, so here it goes:

When I was three, my family moved into an upper-middle-class, all-white neighborhood. We had a big back yard, so my parents built a pool. Not the only pool on the block, but the only one neighborhood boys started throwing rocks into. White boys. One day my mom ID’d one as the boy from across the street, went to his house, told his mother, and, fortunately, his mother believed mine. My mom not only got an apology, but also had that boy jump in our pool and retrieve every single rock. No more rocks after that.

Then Mom even invited him to come over to swim sometime if he asked for permission. Everyone became friends. This one has a happy ending because my mom was and is badass about matters like these, but I hope you can see that the white privilege in this situation is being able to move into a “nice” neighborhood and be accepted not harassed, made to feel unwelcome, or prone to acts of vandalism and hostility.

When my older sister was five, a white boy named Mark called her a “nigger” after she beat him in a race at school. She didn’t know what it meant, but in her gut, she knew it was bad. This was the first time I’d seen my father the kind of angry that has nowhere to go. I somehow understood it was because not only had some boy verbally assaulted his daughter and had gotten away with it; it had way too early introduced her (and me) to that term and the reality of what it meant — that some white people would be cruel and careless with black people’s feelings just because of our skin color. Or our achievement.

If it’s unclear in any way, the point here is if you’ve NEVER had a defining moment in your childhood or your life where you realize your skin color alone makes other people hate you, you have white privilege.

Sophomore year of high school. I had Mr. Melrose for Algebra 2. Sometime within the first few weeks of class, he points out that I’m “the only spook” in the class. This was meant to be funny. It wasn’t. So I doubt it will surprise you I was relieved when he took medical leave after suffering a heart attack and was replaced by a sub for the rest of the semester.

The point here is if you’ve never been “the only one” of your race in a class, at a party, on a job, etc. and it’s been pointed out in a “playful” fashion by the authority figure in said situation — you have white privilege.

When we started getting our college acceptances senior year, I remember some white male classmates were pissed that another black classmate had gotten into UCLA while they didn’t. They said that affirmative action had given him “their spot” and it wasn’t fair. An actual friend of theirs. Who’d worked his ass off.

The point here is if you’ve never been on the receiving end of the assumption that when you’ve achieved something it’s only because it was taken away from a white person who “deserved it” — that is white privilege.

When I got accepted to Harvard (as a fellow A.P. student you were witness to what an academic beast I was in high school, yes?), three separate times I encountered white strangers as I prepped for my maiden trip to Cambridge that rankle to this day. The first was the white doctor giving me a physical at Kaiser:

Me: “I need to send an immunization report to my college so I can matriculate.”
Doctor: “Where are you going?”
Me: “Harvard.”
Doctor: “You mean the one in Massachusetts?”

The second was in a store, looking for supplies I needed from Harvard’s suggested “what to bring with you” list.

Store employee: “Where are you going?”
Me: “Harvard.”
Store employee: “You mean the one in Massachusetts?”

The third was at UPS, shipping off boxes of said “what to bring” to Harvard. I was in line behind a white boy mailing boxes to Princeton, and in front of a white woman sending her child’s boxes to wherever.

Woman, to the boy: “What college are you going to?”
Boy: “Princeton.”
Woman: “Congratulations!” [to me] “Where are you sending your boxes?”
Me: “Harvard.”
Woman: “You mean the one in Massachusetts?”

I think: “No, b——, the one downtown next to the liquor store.” But I say, gesturing to my LABELED boxes, “Yes, the one in Massachusetts.” Then she says congratulations, but it’s too f—ing late.
The point here is if no one has ever questioned your intellectual capabilities or attendance at an elite institution based solely on your skin color, that is white privilege.

In my freshman college tutorial, our small group of 4-5 was assigned to read Thoreau, Emerson, Malcolm X, Joseph Conrad, Dreiser, etc. When it was the week to discuss The Autobiography of Malcolm X, one white boy boldly claimed he couldn’t even get through it because he couldn’t relate and didn’t think he should be forced to read it. I don’t remember the words I said, but I still remember the feeling — I think it’s what doctors refer to as chandelier pain: as soon as a sensitive area on a patient is touched, they shoot through the roof. That’s what I felt.

I know I said something like my whole life I’ve had to read “things that don’t have anything to do with me or that I relate to” but I find a way anyway because that’s what learning is about — trying to understand other people’s perspectives.
The point here is — the canon of literature studied in the United States, as well as the majority of television and movies, have focused primarily on the works or achievements of white men. So if you have never experienced or considered how damaging it is/was/could be to grow up without myriad role models and images in school that reflect you in your required reading material or in the mainstream media — that is white privilege.

All seniors at Harvard are invited to a fancy, seated group lunch with our respective dorm Masters. (Yes, they were called “Masters” up until this February when they changed it to “Faculty Deans,” but that’s just a tasty little side dish to the main course of this remembrance.) While we were being served by the Dunster House cafeteria staff — the black ladies from Haiti and Boston that ran the line daily; I still remember Jackie’s kindness and warmth to this day — Master Sally mused out loud how proud they must be to be serving the nation’s best and brightest.

I don’t know if they heard her, but I did and it made me uncomfortable and sick. The point here is, if you’ve never been blindsided when you are just trying to enjoy a meal by a well-paid faculty member’s patronizing and racist assumptions about how grateful black people must feel to be in their presence — you have white privilege.

While writing on a television show in my 30s, my new white male boss — who had only known me for a few days — had unbeknownst to me told another writer on staff he thought I was conceited, didn’t know as much I thought I did, and didn’t have the talent I thought I had. And what exactly had happened in those few days? I disagreed with a pitch where he suggested our lead female character carelessly leave a pot holder on the stove and burn down her apartment. This character being a professional caterer.

When what he said about me was revealed months later (by then he’d come to respect and rely on me), he apologized for prejudging me because I was a black woman. I told him he was ignorant and clearly had a lot to learn. It was a good talk because he was remorseful and open. But the point here is, if you’ve never been on the receiving end of a boss’s prejudiced, uninformed, “how dare she question my ideas” badmouthing based on solely on his ego and your race, you have white privilege.

On my very first date with my now husband, I climbed into his car and saw baby wipes on the passenger side floor. He said he didn’t have kids, and that they were just there to clean up messes in the car. I twisted to secure my seat belt and saw a stuffed animal in the rear window. I gave him a look. He said, “I promise, I don’t have kids. That’s only there so I don’t get stopped by the police.” He then told me that when he drove home from work late at night, he was getting stopped by cops constantly because he was a black man in a luxury car and they assumed it was either stolen or he was a drug dealer. When he told a cop friend about this, he told Warren to put a stuffed animal in the rear window because it would change “his profile” to that of a family man, and he was much less likely to be stopped.

The point here is, if you’ve never had to mask the fruits of your success with a floppy-eared stuffed bunny rabbit so you won’t get harassed by the cops on the way home from your gainful employment (or never had a first date start this way), you have white privilege.

Six years ago, I started a Facebook page that has grown into a website called Good Black News because I was shocked to find there were no sites dedicated solely to publishing the positive things black people do. Let me explain here how biased the coverage of mainstream media is, in case you don’t already have a clue — as I curate, I can’t tell you how often I have to swap out a story’s photo to make it as positive as the content. Photos published of black folks in mainstream media are very often sullen or angry-looking. Even when it’s a positive story!

I also have to constantly alter headlines to include a person’s name and not have it just be “Black Man Wins Settlement” or “Carnegie Hall Gets First Black Board Member,” or rephrase it from a subtle subjugator like “ABC Taps Viola Davis as Series Lead” to “Viola Davis Lands Lead on ABC Show” as is done for, say, Jennifer Aniston or Steven Spielberg. I also receive a fair amount of highly offensive racist trolling. I don’t even respond. I block and delete ASAP.
The point here is — not having to rewrite stories and headlines or swap photos while being trolled by racists when all you’re trying to do on a daily basis is promote positivity and share stories of hope and achievement and justice — that is white privilege.
Okay, Jason, there’s more, but I’m exhausted. And my kids need dinner. Remembering and reliving many of these moments has been a strain and a drain (and, again, this ain’t even half or the worst of it). But I hope my experiences shed some light for you on how institutional and personal racism have affected the entire life of a friend of yours to whom you’ve only been respectful and kind. I hope what I’ve shared makes you realize it’s not just strangers but people you know and care for who have suffered and are suffering because we are excluded from the privilege you have to not be judged, questioned, or assaulted in any way because of your race.
As to you “being part of the problem,” trust me, nobody is mad at you for being white. Nobody. Just like nobody should be mad at me for being black. Or female. Or whatever.
But what is being asked of you is to acknowledge that white privilege does exist, and to not only to treat people of races that differ from yours “with respect and humor,” but also to stand up for fair treatment and justice, to not let “jokes” or “off-color” comments by friends, co-workers, or family slide by without challenge, and to continually make an effort to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, so we may all cherish and respect our unique and special contributions to society as much as we do our common ground.
With much love and respect,

This essay originally appeared on Good Black News and is reprinted with permission of the author.

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is a Los Angeles native, Harvard graduate, former film studio executive, film and television writer/producer, and founder/editor-in-chief of the award-winning website Good Black News. She is also a wife, mother, vegetarian, crossword puzzle enthusiast, nerd, and avid music lover.

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  • Carolyn Overcash

    There’s privileged whites and then there’s white privileged. I guess I’m ‘white privileged’;however I’d like to point out a few uncomfortable moments that I had growing up, not in any particular order: being grateful there was bread, milk, home canned tomatoes in the house to eat [nothing else, just that], getting frostbite in the bed because there was no heat in the bedroom as an infant),home being burned out 2-3 times before starting school, being made fun of because I had plain cotton underwear (school), working in school cafeteria stacking milk during recess [age 9] (milk man paid for both my sister’s and my lunch), working in school cafeteria to earn lunch (from age 9 through high school), working driving school bus and in cafeteria to pay for mine and siblings lunches, book fees, school clothes, [Note no government aide, dad owned house and land worth $3000, yes three thousand dollars,– house so old couldn’t get insurance, no running water and it had an outhouse], principal telling mom I couldn’t come to school in one of my 3 dresses since it was 1/2 inch from touching the floor when I knelt on my knees], working any job for any pay to have an income after I turned 18, getting married with one suitcase of clothing, working 23 years for an employer and then training my replacement, taking many classes but no degree, being able to pass a college entrance exam after graduating 40 years prior. Dad was disabled from the time I was 9 (he was 26) but the government didn’t make it official until he was 33. I was loved by both my parents and my siblings. We lived the golden rule, were taught to give an honest day’s work and if you weren’t doing your job–you’re stealing from your employer, you’ll answer to your parents and God for your sins and you’re just as guilty of sinning by not doing something that you know to be right (sin of omission) as you are if you do something wrong. I’ve never marched in a protest, I vote, I pay all my taxes and bills, reduced my wants to match my income. If half these protesters and whiners would ever “get up off that thing” and do something constructive to help others instead of doing destructive actions and protesting just to garner attention, the world would be a better place. Yes, I’m privileged, because I was raised as a child of the King in a Christian household. You are my brothers and sisters, I was taught to help others and that you don’t hurt your family or others by word or deed.

    • Gabby

      You raise a good point that there is a great difference in life situations among white people, some raised in great comfort and affluence, while others were raised in poverty and in situations of abuse or neglect. It was a blessing indeed for you to be loved by two parents, not a guarantee regardless of the color of your skin, and to be proud of the values with which you were raised.
      What I do not think follows is your assumption that half the protesters never “get up off that thing” and do something constructive to help others.”
      I think, rather, that many of those who protest do so precisely because they, like you, were taught to help others in the myriad ways that life presents us. Even a person born and raised in very difficult circumstances, even one who through his own efforts and resilience managed to build a life for himself, may find it important to stand up to defend people who do not have the strength or voice to stand for themselves alone.
      This position and the actions that follow are particularly consistent with the belief that we are all brothers and sisters, as you write. Speaking up for others is one legitimate way to act from an open and loving heart.

      • Carolyn Overcash

        Sorry I said ” If half these protesters and whiners would ever “get up off that thing” and do something constructive to help others” because you left off the rest of the quote, ” instead of doing destructive actions and protesting just to garner attention, the world would be a better place.” When a protest has vulgar signs and language, when a protest turns violent and angry, when people [within the protest group or bystanders] are hurt, when property is destroyed or looted, when traffic is blocked and drivers threatened; then yes I stand by my statement that said protesters should do [be doing] something [that is] constructive to help others. When protesters come to the protest with their faces covered, armed with sticks, bricks, rocks, bats, pipes, etc. they are Not projecting a positive, helpful aura and could possibly be considered up to no good. They certainly don’t leave the protest group with a good public image and could garner negative condemnation. The protests I’ve seen on the news is not of an affirmative, uplifting group of protesters, thus my comment.

    • AshleyQuinn

      I find this response to this blog a distraction. It’s one thing to find commonality in similarity of struggle, but another thing to try to one-up another’s struggles. Nowhere in the post does she say that white people don’t have struggles – but none of the struggles in your life were because you were black, and it’s entirely possible that whatever obstacles you met in life would have been that much harder to overcome if your skin color had been black. Two men with HS degrees – one a black man with no criminal history, the other a white man with a conviction – the white man has an easier time finding a job – that’s the kind of researched and statistical analysis that the original white person posting the question doesn’t want to hear. Two identical resumes, one with a “black sounding name” the other with a “white sounding name” and the white names get called in for interviews far more often. And we white folks question whether or not race was a motivating factor in discrimination all the time. Last night Adele beat Beyonce for Best Album of the Year at the Grammy’s and people on my facebook feed want to pretend like race wasn’t a factor in that absurdity. Adele herself said Bey deserves the award.

      • Carolyn Overcash

        Sorry, I was a distraction. Not trying to “one up”. In fact, point I tried to make is that regardless of skin tone or dna background, we all have struggles, trials and tribulation. We were put here to help each other regardless of background or skin tone, not to put one another down. Sorry that my not being “black” seems to negate my input in your opinion. However, I am a melting pot American [Heinz 57] with my current extended family being a rainbow of hues. Oddly enough, I’m color blind, thus I see all peoples as God’s unique creations.

        • AshleyQuinn

          I think colorblindness is dangerous. I mean it sounds nice. But it doesn’t make sense to me with the rest of the sentence. If you see people as G-d’s unique creations then wouldn’t you actually see them, all of them, skin color and all? I don’t think many black people wish that white people didn’t see their black skin when we look at them, I think they just wish we didn’t’ equate black with bad or criminal or lazy etc. As a queer person, I don’t want my queer identity erased by those who look at me.
          The reason I say “colorblindness” is dangerous is largely from reading Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Krista Tippet has an interview with Ms. Alexander. For instance our country’s prison system pretends to be color blind, criminalizing actions not race, but then imposes more severe sentencing for drugs more commonly used by POC than by white folks, the policy is racist without ever having to name black people.
          If you’re being sarcastic it’s hard for me to read that in text on the internet from a stranger, but it feels like your “sorry”s aren’t really – and probably don’t need to be. And you don’t answer to me. I’m just participating in the conversation.

          • Carolyn Overcash

            As a participant in this conversation, I was not being sarcastic. Since it was misunderstood, let me explain, my being color blind I mean, I see all people as God’s unique creations. I stand by that statement.

            When I meet you I don’t see your race, your background, your past, you’re sexual life, your job, occupation etc as a barrier or reason not to love you as a fellow human being, a fellow creation of God. I know that the differences exist, but they don’t dictate my personal interaction with you.

            My first instinct when meeting someone is to give them a hug of friendship. I want to be a friend and help that person in any way I can. I firmly believe in the Golden Rule and the Sins of Omission as they pertain to my daily life. (PS: I believe in “Paying it Forward” also, and have ever since I saw the the movie of the same name.)

            My smiles, hugs, genuine caring about how someone’s day, week etc is for that person as an individual. If you are that individual, I’ll pray for you, cry with you, lend a helping hand, gift you with something you need if I have it to give, rejoice with you. I’ll listen to you, hunt for solutions for problems and eventually even offer you unsolicited advice–just the same way that I treat my younger blood related brothers and sisters and my circle of friends. That’s how I was taught to live, how I grew up and how I believe in living.

          • Eva Simone

            I believe you are missing the whole point that with all that neutral, ‘kumbayah’, colorblindness personal approach to life it still doesn’t exempt you from being afforded the “privilege” of ‘the System of Whiteness’ outlined in several of the numerous examples both in the article itself and responses to it. If you start harboring some kind of personal guilt on account of benefiting from “privilege” exclusive to ‘the System of Whiteness’, that is your own is your own internalization of guilt you shouldn’t have for being White. It doesn’t however, negate that people who are non-white are excluded from those “privileges” on the basis of the color of their skin. So while you are all colorblind and ‘kumbayah’ to all people there are still systemic and institutionalized biases you will never experience for nothing other than you are White. It’s not your fault; it just is. That’s all.

    • Ed Fox

      I am more than happy to accept what you’ve said about yourself, and the way you view and treat all people, regardless of color or other demographic considerations. It sounds as though you are a kind, compassionate person, which I am glad for and happy to accept. I also appreciate your discussion of your upbringing and the difficulties you and your family encountered.

      The issue, however, is that the article isn’t about you being a problem, or any other specific person or people. The vast majority of white folks (including myself) could be exactly like you, and that wouldn’t address the issue, or it’s relation to this nation’s history and the continuing effects of that history on communities of color. This is a systemic issue, and it’s about acknowledging and accepting other people’s experiences, as they relate them, without judging or questioning the validity, or import, of those experiences. While it’s easy to compare, and to list the litany of our own struggles, it is fundamentally not relevant to the discussion initiated by the author’s Facebook friend or the discussion in this article itself.

  • MysticCowboy

    I fully appreciate the experience of white privilege, not because I’m black but because I’ve been the recipient of this kind of discrimination myself. When I was 13, my parents moved from Las Vegas to a small Utah community. They thought that country life would be good for us. We were the only non-Morman family in town, which taught me the experience of discrimination first hand. Parents wouldn’t let their daughters date me. People came up to me on the street and told me I wasn’t wanted. I was pulled over several times by the the local cops, for no other reason than they knew me as an outsider, we only had two. Neither of my younger sister, both bright and attractive young women had a single date through their entire time in that community. I could go on.

    I experienced much the same thing when I moved into a mixed hispanic/black neighborhood. The apartment was the only one I could afford at the time. I was beaten up twice by young African American men. I was called a honky pig buy a young woman. My offense was walking by her and saying hi. To this day, I do that to most people I pass on the sidewalk I am not now, nor was then aggressive or demeaning in my behavior. However, I was different… I was constantly insulted in Spanish by hispanics, not all of them young. I had enough of the language to know what they were saying.

    While white privilege is a real thing, I think that the bigger truth is that people are tribal and afraid of the other. That’s the problem that we all need to address, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation.

    • Capt. FluffyBunny

      Amen! Seriously, I’ve had. very similar experiences and have witnessed gross racist, sexist behavior by people of all walks, religion, cultures, and races. People are tribal and xenophobic.

    • Darkrystal

      As a “Mormon” myself I can tell you that not being allowed to date the girls there is not that surprising. I married a non-Mormon and it ended in divorce in part due to the differences in religious beliefs. I am surprised that you were pulled over all the time. The teachings of our church emphasize loving our neighbors and helping each other. I don’t have a lot of experience living in Utah though since I grew up in CO and now live in TX. And in those areas we are not a majority. I hope you won’t fall into the trap of judging the church on the actions of a few of its members. That would be a shame.

  • Brazilian Happiness Coach

    WOW!! So inspiring! Thanks Lori!

  • Privileged white guy

    As a 1 of about 10 white kids in a school of about 1000 black kids, I know all about racism.

    In today’s world in which African Americans minority subset of the population enjoy the benefits of a system designed and enacted by the larger white population to insure that the minority black population would be treated equitably, isn’t it appropriate to refrain from formulating a strategy for prejudging white people as privileged(and thus wronging you in some way) simply because they are white. I think we call this racism and forms the basis for injustice.

    I grew up in the Mississippi delta and I have known many black folks that were better people than most white folks. And I’ve known many white folks that were sorrier that buzzard s**t. People, white or black, brown, yellow or green can be however they choose and enjoy the benefits or suffer the CO sequences thereof.

    I was installing a tile floor for a black family once, when discussions of white privileges began. I’ve had black folks (more than once) accuse me of being racist and when i asked I was told “cause your one of those white motherf***s. Isn’t that ironic.

    Anyways I was just sharing. But I got to get to bed now cause my white butt has to get up early and running a jackhammer all day. Such a privilege.

    • Laura Steele

      Yeah, but despite your experiences, you still don’t get it. You are not likely to be pulled over while driving to work to operate your jackhammer because of racial profiling. You’re probably not asked for two forms of identification when paying for your groceries with a check. If you make a mistake on the job, your white boss and co-workers are less likely to file a formal complaint. Your white neighbors are less likely to call the cops on you if you host a party. So just imagine living your own life, which I’m sure is not easy (as it is not easy for many of us white folks) but with the additional burden of black skin. That’s all this is about.

      • Capt. FluffyBunny

        I think you’re right about the first two items and very wrong about the rest of the things you list. Corporations are incredibly careful when handling complaints against people of color and women–very litigious atmosphere. As far as neighbors and parties, same goes.

        • Eric Siegel

          Not even that. There have been a number of recent research studies that show people with “stereotypically black” names on resumes get fewer interviews and callbacks than people with generic or “white” names. Corporations may be careful to try to not get sued, but there is still a tremendous amount of bias in the workplace.

    • Jacqueline Comola

      Your comment makes me realize that in a textbook type of situation, it should technically be called “majority privilege.” Whatever race, religion, sex etc. that the majority is, in any given situation, is usually the group with the power and privilege. In the US, though, I think it’s a little different. So leaving skin tone out of it, let’s take the example that there’s pretty much as many men as there are women in the US. Even though men aren’t the majority, they clearly feel they are the ones in charge. This is something that separates USA “white privilege” from the idea of “majority privilege.” Many men definitely treat me differently than they treat other men. And that’s actually men of all ethnicities. But even among both men and women, there’s assumptions made about me as a white person, too. My skin tone absolutely dictates how people treat me in this country. First, people assume I have money because I am white, educated, and wear dresses a lot; second, people assume I’m sweet and maternal; third, people assume I can cook; fourth, people assume I am Christian; fifth, other white people assume I won’t be offended by a racist joke; sixth, other women assume I love wine to a slightly obsessive degree (??); seventh, people assume I am straight and will forgive them for making a slur about the LGBT community or agree with them altogether. I think it’s obvious I am treated differently because of my skin color. It’s definitely a thing in our country. On the privilege side, people assume I won’t steal from them, I won’t harm them, I won’t be too outspoken, and I will defend another white person if they say something ignorant or at least hear them out. I know definitively that’s not always assumed about people of color.

      For a long time, anglo saxonish Caucasians were the power holders in the US, and even if droves of people of color or fair skin immigrants came into the US, those Caucasian “originals,” so to speak, were the group to which all immigrants/new comers had to assimilate. From an historical perspective, I think white privilege is something white people enforced, not because they were the majority, but because they were there “first,” and they wanted to be the ones who made the rules and prevent any changes to the lifestyle they made for themselves. Because of this history, and because of slavery, I think white privilege is extremely relevant and is more accurate a description for our country than “majority privilege.” In the past, many white Americans wanted to make sure they were at the top of the proverbial food chain, even if they were not the majority in a given situation. They laid that foundation a long time ago, and amazingly, it still hasn’t really changed that much due to them being the majority in the government for years. Colonial white Americans also had a sense of false ownership over the USA which was their justification for their immoral treatment of groups that were “different” than them, including the Native Americans. This was in the Enlightenment Era where the concept of Manifest Destiny afforded white males their god-given right to do as they pleased and feel no guilt in so doing. If that’s not white privilege I don’t know what is!

      People are always going to profile, whether it’s positive or negative. I think it’s a survival instinct, and our brains have a strong, fundamental need to categorize. It’s just the nature of the brain. So I do believe people of color and white people both profile and organize other people into categories. It’s going to happen, always. What’s important is how we control our impulse to categorize and realize we are stronger than our fundamental instinct to categorize everything in our heads – or at least start with making better categories! I definitely think we can, with time, overcome the history of our country with its biased Caucasian-power-manifest-destiny-craziness that’s created white privilege, male privilege, and, to be honest, in the area I live in, Christian privilege, too. Looking ahead, though, we have to be mindful that different isn’t scary, and we have to assume the best rather than assume the worst. The cycle will continue as long as we continue to be afraid of those who don’t look and act like us. At the end of the day we’re all human. There’s really no difference between one person and the next. As the “melting pot” we should be the leading example of people from all different cultures and appearances coexisting.

  • Ave Rojas

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Capt. FluffyBunny

    These aren’t examples of white privilege, these are examples of asshole individuals, racism, and sexism.

    I’m a white woman and have encountered enumerable similar situations. Far more than I can count. Very similar.

    Sometimes people were jerks because I was a woman doing something they didn’t expect, sometimes the person was just an idiotic jerk, sometimes they thought I was poor white trash and didn’t deserve the same treatment they were getting, and sometimes the person was a racist jerk with a chip on their shoulders.

    • wordsonfire

      Actually assuming that people don’t deserve their place in school is pretty much a privilege that only whites presume. So they may be both privilege and racism. The privilege to be presumed worthy and deserving for everything you have. That you will be treated fairly by the police. That you will be treated as a customer and not a criminal. These should all be “norms” that we should be able to expect, but are often only afforded to whites.

      But we call the system of all this privilege. So you don’t like the nomenclature. We get it. We are talking about the “taking it for granted nature of it all.” That’s when it goes from being individual racism and becomes a group privilege.

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  • Jose Phonebone

    OK, now I get it, white privilege is being less likely to be prejudged, based on the color of my skin.

    You appear to be saying to the white bystander; “jump in any time now, I’d appreciate some support in dealing with this person who is being sexist and/or racist to me.” That is appropriate, but let’s boil it down just a smidgen, we all should feel obligated to intervene when something wrong, unjust or harmful if being done to another person.

    But that is not how the term white privilege is often being used, it is very often used as a derogatory slur to shame whites for simply being, as though being white were an incurable existential evil. Hogwash.

    If I am present when another is being mistreated and I do nothing, then you would have all the right in the world to chastise me, so that hopefully I might show more courage in the future. But you would be totally in the wrong if you left the room and started to shame and chastise another individual who had not participated in your mistreatment and/or was not witness to it.

    If you want help in shutting down racist and sexist behaviors, and all other forms of denigrating prejudice, then I all on-board with that, but we don’t need new terms that are being used to divide us more and amplify hatred between us. We don’t need Maoist shaming Struggle Session techniques here in America.

    • wordsonfire

      Yes. Exactly. You have the PRIVILEGE to be less likely to be prejudged. There are thousands of ways this plays out. You may not have to dress up to go shopping. You may not worry that a new nieghbor will see your black child in their neighborhood and decide to call the police not because the child is doing anything wrong but because someone black in the neighborhood appears “suspicious.”

      I think you are being presumptious to say that it is used as a “derogatory slur to shame whites” as opposed to a statement of fact. That you have the privilege of rarely having to even consider or think of these things is indeed a privege. I actually think “privilege” is the wrong word because so often whites rear back and can’t hear anything else. It does define a standard that many whites enjoy, but I think too many whites view “privilege” as being spoiled or wealthy or not having to work hard. But that doesn’t mean that the idea and construct are some Maoist shaming technique.

      I think we all deserve this type of “normal” behavior. But few people of color receive it. That you feel uncomfortable with the idea that you have this privilege might be some work that you may need to do and not to place it on people who don’t have the privilege of not being prejudged.

    • Anon7

      Why do you feel you have the need to castigate yourself? I don’t think I’ve ever run into that perspective online before from POC; that’s your extrapolation, not something said *anywhere* in this article.

      POC are fighting this with all they’ve got, and I can’t imagine how tiring it must get for them to see individuals like you coming in saying “educate me”, and “I’m not to blame”.

      Have you noticed that both perspectives are all about *you*?

      Maybe, like an above commenter said above, you can view this information with a perspective that transcends guilt or pride, and just look into yourself and ask if you’ve contributed to the problem. Is the answer yes? Vow to do better and continue to educate yourself. Is the answer no? Great. Then, like anything in life, acknowledge there is wrong in this world, and do what you can to confront it and counter it.
      But also, don’t expect a badge of honor for your efforts. That still makes it all about you; do it because in your heart you know it’s wrong that these individuals face prejudice that affects the trajectory of their lives. That weighs on them and is a constant source of concern. You’re not either “guilty” or a “savior”, you’re just doing the basic requisites to be a good person.

  • Lexi Letch

    So glad my Ethics class suggested I read this! This article is fantastic and extremely eye opening.

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  • Carolyn Overcash

    I so wish taking statements out of context weren’t the norm for persons looking for ways to find fault. “When I meet you I don’t see your race, your background, your past, you’re sexual life, your job, occupation etc as a barrier or reason not to love you as a fellow human being, a fellow creation of God. ” I treat each person as a unique individual, a unique creation of God, and I try to follow God’s example and teachings in how I treat them. This is no way takes away from who they are, what their culture, upbringing, or accomplishments are or could be. Christ taught that even as we do unto others we do unto him; therefore, I don’t look for differences, I look for how we are alike as God’s children.

    • livin1965

      My sense is that you want to see yourself one way and it’s very difficult to learn that other people don’t experience you the same way. The comments people are offering as feedback could be used to find ways to think more deeply and inwardly about how you are approaching the issue of race and color. Instead, you seem to need to defend every response. It’s understandable. I often reflexively feel defensive when offered criticism, even when it’s spot on. Being a husband and father is incredibly humbling when I allow the feedback of my wife and daughter to cause me to look deeply at my choices and motivations. I want to see myself a certain way (often that means being “right”), but many times I’m not, plain and simple. I think the author of the article is asking people to think more deeply about their choices and motivations, to look inward.

      We can ill-afford to be color-blind, regardless of how benign you intend that notion to be received. I’d recommend stripping it from your lexicon. I have yet to see anything good come from pretending an aspect of a person does not exist. Jesus saw everyone, deeply, and exactly as they were. I’m not aware of any existence in the bible in which God tells us to pretend certain aspects of people do not exist even if we think it allows us to love them more. Loving someone isn’t about pretending we are all the same, it’s about seeing all that is different, deeply and truly, and finding ways to connect in spite of how those difference might make us feel and (perhaps most difficult of all) doing so in a loving way. A huge order, if you ask me, and one I struggle with constantly.

      Blessings on your journey.

  • Carolyn Overcash

    In context, “When I meet you I don’t see your race, your background, your past, you’re sexual life, your job, occupation etc as a barrier or reason not to love you as a fellow human being, a fellow creation of God. I know that the differences exist, but they don’t dictate my personal interaction with you.” We have all had negative interactions with other people. How we deal with that negative interaction is up to us as individuals. Hopefully, it will make us have more empathy with another’s struggles, trials, and tribulations. You are not invisible, I am not erasing any accomplishments you may or may not have achieved. I don’t know you; however, I will treat you equally well as to those persons I already know. My mom and dad taught their children, myself included, not to expect praise for doing the right thing, the right thing is what one is expected to do. So in this instance I’m saying this, have a wonderful life, I hope it fills your expectations and you get the recognition you expect. As for myself, God’s not done with me yet: I’m still a work in progress.

  • wordsonfire

    There isn’t any such thing as “reverse racism.” I always think people who use that term don’t even see how very ironic it is. That they believe that it is the privilege of whites to be racist and that anyone who might be prejudiced towards them is doing it “in reverse.” Examine that idea of “reverse” racism for a minute.

    Because we let one or two exemplary people actually achieve something doesn’t mean that racism doesn’t exist or that we are in a post racial world.

    I have two children whom are the same age. One is white–he was a slightly above average student until college. One is black–he is a flat out genius who works exceptionally hard. Their experiences were as different as their skin colors. My black child I constantly had to be at school advocating on his behalf even though he was a really easy sweet kid and my white child was continually getting opportunities he hadn’t earned.

    I witnessed up close the power of being invested in and to be assumed the best of instead of the worst of. It wasn’t even a close experience.

  • No. Nobody, not whites, blacks, Asians, or purple people, need to feel guilty about the color of their skin. There is absolutely no reason to apologize for the way you were born. Sorry, but you are not special thanks to your skin color, whatever it may be.

    The anecdotes you’ve shared are blatant displays of RACISM, and you happen to be sharing stories featuring white people, probably because your country is majority white. Those people were racist and disrespectful to you, and perhaps you should have been more pointed with them if it offended you. In any event, I’m not going to feel ashamed because they treated you a certain way.

    • Ed Fox

      No one asked you to feel ashamed. No one suggested you should. And the fact you took this discussion and made it about YOU, instead of simply trying to understand the author’s experience, and you took it upon YOURSELF to decide how she SHOULD have felt, suggests that YOU are the issue, that YOU don’t get it, and that YOU would rather go out of your way to defend yourself and your privilege (a privilege I share) than to actually concern yourself with someone else’s well-being.

  • Michael Taub

    Thanks for this. I hope it helps some people understand what it is like to be a person of color in this country. As a white man, I never had to worry when my children went out that they would be shot just because of what they look like. What more can I say?

  • B

    Except the author never brought up slavery in her essay above.

  • Mandy Sue

    I know that white people can’t really know the black experience, but they should be open to learning and the more they learn, the more open their eyes will be to the shocking reality. When people think they have nothing to learn because they know the score, that’s a sign of arrogance and ignorance.

    For a crash course in race in America, PLEASE WATCH “13th.” At least twice and you’ll probably want to watch it more than that. Then watch “Fixing Juvie Justice.”

  • Mandy Sue


  • Brenda Gaines Hunter

    I have so many examples that I don’t even know where to start. The most obvious example of white privilege to me has been not being able to use white co-workers and friends, etc as role models. I just cannot get away with doing what many of them do. That often leaves me guessing about how to handle various types of situations. Employers, teachers and even doctors tend to treat me as if they are doing me a favor instead of treating me like a client or patient.

    I’m constantly drug tested and considered to be either dumb or crazy by the medical establishment. I have a PhD, three master’s degrees and six professional certifications. Doctors have even told me to shut up. I don’t fight with them, because they would just call security.

    I listen to white people in my support groups talk about the conversations that they have with their doctors. I cannot have those conversations with mine. I am to just take whatever they give and do whatever they say. My former PCP even contacted my psychiatrist to see if I had a drug problem or a major mental illness. My psychiatrist told him that I have PTSD (from dealing with the doctors over a major medical problem) and I have never had a drug or alcohol problem. (The clinic I was seen at requires a consultation with a staff psychiatrist.) As a matte of fact, I’ve never been a drinker and even voted against legalizing marijuana, but still… My psychiatrist instead told him that I am well educated and very intelligent. Not only am I very good in math, science, social studies, and English, I am a visual artist and owned a personal training studio before learning that I have systemic lupus and hashitoxicosis. Actually, I’m good at everything that I do. So I jumped for not being dumb.

    Within the first few months in my PhD program, a white guy let me know that he “thought he had really accomplished something until he saw me there.” Another let me know that there was a historically black college nearby. It didn’t even matter to her that my major wasn’t offered there. What being really bright does for me is make me aware of every slight and every innuendo. I’ve gone on job interviews in which the recruiters were so happy to have me come in for an interview while we spoke on the phone, but later wondered who I was once I arrived for the interview. I have been told “I was expecting a redhead.” (I guess because of my name.) I’ve wasted so much time and money chasing jobs that I really never had any chance of getting. Sometimes I am not interviewed at all. I end up leaving after waiting for an hour or so. I’ve been asked no fewer than fives times “Why I did not just go to school to be a secretary.” Some of the recruiters and managers who asked that question were white women, which brings up another point. The Trump administration’s obsession with affirmative action. The plan is only to eliminate race-based affirmative action. What about gender-based affirmative action? I have heard some white women argue that only gender-based affirmation action should be allowed.

    I could not get into an incest survivor’s group, because the counselors said that I could not be the only black woman in in it. Why? Because white women don’t believe that black women are incest survivors, rape victims, etc. We are sluts. The counselors were trying to protect me. Later one women told me that what happened to me was more acceptable because I am black. I grew up in foster care. This constant b.s as well as my childhood abuse keeps me in a constant state of PTSD.

    Minorities do not make the rules. And “qualified”, “deserving”… are not operational definitions. How can you not be ahead of everyone when your culture gets to make the rules, decide who is obeying them, and have the “right” to enforce them? Sometimes black people don’t even know what the rules are. I often cannot even find the playing field. Often when I do, someone is there to point to an area behind the waste cans. This society runs a caste system, and black people seem to be the lowest common denominator by which white people measure their self-worth and, therefore, white people have a vested interested in keeping us poor, uneducated, and unemployed.

    During ML King Jr’s holiday celebration last year, many white people were happy to tell us about how King said “content of the character instead of color of the skin.” I pointed out to them that King said many other things as well. In “Why We Can’t Wait” he discussed leveling the playing field and reparations. I told people they if they wanted to use King’s words, they needed to accept all of them. With the reparation, I would buy a future in some country in Africa.

    • Stephanie

      This made me LIVID on your behalf. I hope you have people in your life who treat you the way you deserve to be treated.

  • Christy

    i am so grateful to you for sharing this, because I’ve often wanted to ask my black friends the very same thing. I never really got what was meant by white privilege. It honestly sounds like white people (myself included) are born with a silver spoon in their mouth and handed everything they want. That was at first offensive to me and I didn’t get it. So I’m glad now I have a better understanding of what that term means. I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability. I am sorry that you have had to endure white privilege and knowing that I will never fully be able to experientially understand what you’ve been through because of that white privilege. But I can seek to learn and be there to stand up for fair treatment. Thanks again. Your comments are invaluable to me!

  • Ed Fox

    See, I don’t see anything saying people are being “called out”, I see people being asked to acknowledge the existence of this privilege, and to acknowledge how the lack of said privilege affects those around you. This article isn’t about you/me, it’s not about white people, it’s about how white privilege functions in society. Maybe, instead of worrying about our own feelings, and adopting a defensive need to turn it back on the person without privilege to justify their experience and feeling, we should simply just read, absorb, consider and try to understand the perspective so that we can, collectively, work to lift everyone up, and to ensure that people never have to feel the way the author describes because of the color of their skin (or their gender, etc.).

    • Shawn Lewis

      well said Ed Fox.

  • Rosemary

    People from other groups very often do have the ability to deny you jobs, apartments, school admission, loans, houses and they can ostracize and insult you and physically threaten, even attack, you.

    Yes. I know that in America blacks have been and still are the victims of horrible discrimination. I’m aware that they routinely experience incidents like the ones discribed in the blog and also far worse and know that few whites do. But I agree with MysticCowboy. It’s a tribal thing. Unfortunately, humans have a tendency to band together and pick on those who are vulnerable, in other words minorities which includes the disabled, gays, people who don’t speak good English, to name a few.

    I have been denied jobs and apartments and called names by strangers in the street. I have been insulted by whites, blacks, browns and Hispanics because of the color of my skin. I have had a medical condition for over 60 years called argyria which makes my skin gray. Google it to verify it.

    I would love to see the day when none of us thinks of blacks as the victims and whites as the oppressors. I would like to see the day when we see people as individuals and talk to each other honestly and openly, especially about the things that are most painful. Although I seriously doubt I will live to see that, I truly hope that many of you will.

  • Staci Moore

    please explain, how do you feel it’s appropriate to “counter” someone else’s experience.

  • Michael72

    I am a 27 year old white male. I grew up in a middle class family and attended Catholic School from Kindergarten through high school. I have a bachelors degree in communications and am currently going back to school for my teaching certificate. I have read your article and have some questions. I just want to know what you think. I am also doing a research paper and just want some different points of view.


    1. Is it illogical to think that black people have a tendency to view negative experiences (that happen to people of all color) as racism? Past experiences (that were racially driven) are probably a factor in this.
    2. Do you think that the minority in any given setting would be targeted and vulnerable? A white kid in an all black school and vice versa?
    3. What needs to happen in order to rid the USA of racial inequality?

  • Stephanie

    Pretty sure the article is addressing this, that yes, people are currently being blocked from participating. Even if that blockage is just other (white) people’s expectations. The deck is stacked, my gender-ambiguous dude: if I, as a white woman, told someone I was going to Harvard they’d be like “oh really? holy shit, that’s awesome I’ve never met anyone who went to Harvard blah blah blah” but when a black woman says it, the automatic response she got was “really? like, the real Harvard? you sure?” Just the fact that people are surprised a black woman would be going to Harvard — with no understanding or knowledge of her qualifications — but would likely have a different reaction to my saying it — with also no understanding of my qualifications (or lack thereof) — is racism, my dude. Pure and simple.

    • xuul

      She never mentions the fact that there is an elite prep school in Los Angeles that is also named Harvard. This seeming acceptance of the elitist achievement ideology seems problematic, especially given the premise of institutional racism.

      • pigeonpie

        Harvard-Westlake in LA is never referred to simply as ‘Harvard’.

    • I.S.Johnson

      I agree that a white person would probably get a different response. But I think calling the response of the three white people “racism” misses the mark. If the portrait of black people in the media and the experience of the individuals in question with black people does not include this picture of high achievement in academia, if most of the news about black people is about crime, violence, joblessness and a high dropout rate why wouldn’t white people be surprised by something outside their experience? We all are influenced by our culture and our direct experience. To call these people racist cuts short the human possibilities and puts them beyond redemption. Being a product of culture and having privilege because one is white does not make you racist.

      If I was the writer of this piece I might have fumed in silence, and I don’t fault her if that is what she did. It can be a burden to go through life feeling like you must “educate white people.” But I would also like to know what might have happened if she said, Is there another Harvard? Crap I thought I got into the only one? Or Crazy, huh? I worked my ass off and I got in, want to congratulate me? Or Are you surprised? Humor and personal engagement can often do more to change prejudice than rallies in the street.

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  • wordsonfire

    What “price” are you paying? I’m asking this question genuinely and without hostility. Have you considered that your need to frame this subject around the “price” YOU have to “pay” suggests that maybe those whom have responded to you with “anger, hostility and judgment” aren’t treating you this way “solely” because of your white skin? Although you use the words of “gratitude and humility” for having unearned privilege that you believe you are paying this price only because of someone else’s behavior. Maybe your skin color isn’t the only issue, maybe it’s your attitude. Maybe it’s because you’ve made the conversation about YOU when the conversation is about a systemic problem that has real world consequences more than just feeling discomfort. Blacks are CONTINUALLY being held responsible for the behaviors of other blacks. We are constantly told that of course the police and white people should be afraid of us because of “black on black crime.” We are continually told we are taking the places of more deserving whites or asians when affirmative action was only instituted BECAUSE of the bad behavior of whites and not our inferiority. So that’s a really high price to pay for “someone else’s bad behavior.”

    Maybe “calling people out for it” isn’t about shaming and blaming, but rather naming so that we can ALL attain the same access and privilege. That without acknowledging that it is happening that we can’t actually achieve that goal.

    It will take work. It might be very hard to achieve. But we can do it. But not if people pretend that “blacks have never been held responsible for someone else’s actions.”

  • Michael, I think you are naive or wearing blinder and plugs in your ears to the truth.

    Black people are NOT treated equally to white people by store clerks, or police, etc. Studies have bene done of White and Black people seeking to rest etc. They are NOT treated equally.

  • fozz47

    Here’s another way to frame white privilige to my fellow caucasians that deny t exists. I carpooled with an African American co-worker for about 10 months. We’d alternate who drove. During that time, my car was crappy and I happily speed if I can get away with it. Her car was a Honda Accord, probably 3-4 years old at the time and well maintained and she stuck to the speed limit religiously, much to my chagrin.

    She got pulled over 7 times during that time, never receiving a ticket, and being told we were pulled over either because she matched the description of a suspect or for crossing the center line (which she never did). Each time the cop acted like it was a favor that she wasn’t going to jail.

    I got pulled over once by a motorcycle cop, who was angry with me for giving him no choice but to ticket me because I was going 71 in a 45mph zone (I was going at least 80 but saw him and mitigated the damage with a heavy brake foot).

  • isabeau

    “Does that mean I have experienced “white privilege” even though my
    similar injustices were based on different reasons (ie: age, gender,
    relations, economics)?”

    Yup. That’s intersectionality: there are multiple different areas of privilege, and you can be advantaged in some and disadvantaged in others. It’s not that all white people have easier lives than all black people — it’s that you haven’t had to deal with race issues on top of everything else. Someone exactly like you but black would have more difficulty in life.

    There are indeed many -isms.

  • isabeau

    ” I don’t appreciate being told I’m privileged based solely on my skin color.”

    Privilege doesn’t mean your life was easy! It just means you didn’t have to deal with racism *as well as* everything else.

    Some of what you describe is the toxicity of our culture’s gender roles. Some of it is intersectionality: a rich black woman may have a better life than a poor white woman, but she’s still going to face issues of racism that the white woman can’t even dream of.

    White privilege” absolutely doesn’t mean you had it easy, just that your life would have been harder if the same things happened *and you were black*.

  • isabeau

    Unaware, not necessarily — but if you are white, you do still have white privilege. “If A, then B” doesn’t say anything about not-A…

  • isabeau

    Look up intersectionality 🙂

    Privilege doesn’t mean you had it easy, and it doesn’t guarantee that you don’t have lack of privilege. Someone who is rich and black has monetary advantage and skin disadvantage; someone who is poor and white has the opposite situation. A rich white able-bodied heterosexual Christian man has more opportunities than a poor black disabled queer Muslim woman — it’s still possible for his life to suck, but he doesn’t have multiple disadvantages in his way.

  • isabeau

    Having privilege is not the same as racism, and personal prejudice is not the same as systemized racism.

  • isabeau

    If people have experienced being treated without dignity, and bring treated with dignity is a right… you can’t say rights can’t be taken away,

    I agree with you though. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, and it’s heartbreaking that some people get denied that.

  • isabeau

    Privilege is not a bad thing. But being aware of privilege means you are in a position to help people without that privilege — like Patrick Stewart explicitly speaking out against domestic violence because people listen to old white men.

    • 3monkies

      I’m just a little old nobody that live in the rural midwest, believe me nobody gives crap who I am or what I say. I have zero white privilege, I just eek out a life just like anybody else. I’m discriminated against just as much as the next guy but based on similar standards… Appearance, wealth, social standing, beliefs… mostly things out of my control

  • Mary McCollum

    I made a choice at 12 to be poor….that is not to pursue money as a goal….also to never have children…now at 70 years of age both those things have been with me a long time. One gets judged a lot being poor…..also for not having children and I have my share of examples of harsh treatment for my choices but they were my choices, being used harshly or judged for things that was a universal choice and not my own is as foreign to me as what a hummingbird feels drinking from a flower. I do remember one time being in an Indian Affairs office where a large Native American was getting very angry talking to the white people sitting around about how he was treated by the police and saying to him “yeah they’re not too crazy about me either” He looked at me and burst out laughing….the tension was relived and we could all recognize our shared humanity….I can never know what another has gone through unless they choose to share it with me and even then it will not be the same as what I feel but I hope I can see the humanity in everyone I meet and refrain from adding to their suffering

  • Emma

  • Cheri

    I am a Country Girl, raised on a farm, and married to a Ranch. After Reading your post, I began to think, I have been treated like that all my life just for being a Country Girl, because I didn’t go to their grade school I was some how less important than any of them. The ignored me, or openly made fun of my clothes, my hair, my WHATEVER! I lived 7 miles out of town, went to a Country school with 9 grades in one room with one teacher. They where all prim and RIGHT because they had a Teacher for ever grade, and 20 some kids in each class. I am Swede, English, Irish, German. So Pretty WHITE, but it did not give me any PRIVILEGE, I was shy, and 1/2 scared by the time I stepped in to a 2 story School with a class room for every class, and EVERY Subject. I did not know the ropes and I was discriminated against for the next 4 years! it was a bet better in Trad School, but I was still Country, I had never been in a city before, and I had a LOT TO LEARN. I didn’t want to be there, so I never really put my head in to it. I was still White, but I was ignorant of the City ways. I was so glad to get out of there, Then I moved 50 miles N. of my Platte Valley wheat farm, to a Sand-hill Ranch, I had never been on a horse, did not know how to rope and ride! had never driven a tractor, or mended fences. My husband loved me, but he had friends, I just never got in to, the sewing bees, and book clubs, etc,. So I have been pretty much left out of this community too. I cant say that I read anything in your Post that sounded raciest to me. It sounded a lot like my life. And I am White, I just don’t fit in, with a lot of those around me. I have a few good friends, that understand and Love me. I don’t expect to fit in. I don’t think my Color has 1 thing to do with it. It is MY ATTITUDE! and I like me just fine, others don’t and that is Their Problem. I don’t have a Color to hang it on. I am Proud of Being Country!!!! and I am not changing that, any more than you are changing color. As a child I had a “chip” on my shoulder, For all those that put me down. I was the SARCASTIC Queen! I could put you down faster than you could try to piss me off! But I got over that. I LIVE, LOVE, and leave a Beautiful memory! Because I CHOOSE to not because any one stepped in for me our stuck up for me. As far as having people through rocks in my poos. “honey there are all kinds of rocks, and all kinds of pools” it matters little what color they are. Jealousy, makes trouble. in All Color’s! I hope you can see. You are not alone, and often it isn’t you Color that is the Cause, it sounds like you would have those problems in ANY COLOR! You are SMART, and EXCEPTIONAL, in all you do!!! and that brings out the GREED EYED DEVIL (Jealousy) in a lot of people! God Bless you girl! Relax You got this! and it is all GOOD! <3

  • Rob Braxton

    No. The only part of this that is of great value is the last line, ‘continually make an effort to put yourself in someone else’s shoes’. The rest of it is fallacious, based on personal truth and even occasional mis-perception I’m sure (dare I say it). Prejudice is real, yes, especially when you’re suckered into swimming in it yourself, by walking imbeciles. Pain in life is not exclusive to any one segmented group, so I’m not even going to address the mis-definition of WP here; however, fair to say, in the words of my priest, ‘Life is hard … for EVERYONE’. Unlike this girl, I’ve learned to walk away when I (believe I) have been insulted, and even faster when it’s false & unwarranted. 😐

  • Timothée Troncy

    The text could be summerised by “we are excluded from the privilege you have to not be judged, questioned, or assaulted in any way because of your race.”
    I do feel empathy and I acknowledge the discrimination that is still in action, but still “privileged” is not what I am, even if I’m not judged, questioned, or assaulted in any way because of my race (even if I have few experiences on my own). It’s not a privilege. Privilege would mean that as white people, we would have to remove some of our illegitimate rights in order to provide black people with justice. I don’t think not being judged, questioned, or assaulted in any way because of my race is a privilege. It is a normal state that all human beings should be provided with. And I do actively share those values, acknowledging the pain, history and current state of racist prejudice. The reverse of discrimination is not privilege but justice and respect.

  • Donna Jenson

    You are a national treasure. I deeply appreciate you’re articulation of white privilege. And am filled with gratitude for you doing it – at all. As a white woman I came to understand long ago it is my responsibility to do this work – so I treasure this clearly spoken gift you have given me and my white sisters and brothers.
    All the best to you and all you do.
    Warm Regards,
    Donna Jenson

  • Anon7

    As a white person who hesitates to ask Black people about their personal experience, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to detail all of this. It’s a totally fair accusation on the part of POC to say that as white people, it’s *our* job to educate ourselves, and to stop putting the burden on them.
    So, you further shouldering the burden and continuing to talk empathically, kindly, and with vulnerability is enormously appreciated. I cannot understand what you go through, but your description really helped open up further facets that I wouldn’t have thought about.

    Know that your writing and efforts has had a profound affect, at the bare minimum on one person. I wish you all the best.

  • Darkrystal

    I am white myself but have experienced many of these issues. Just because you are black does not mean you don’t experience prejudice. I was a minority in my high school. It was 75% Hispanic, 20% Laocian and Vietnamese. The remaining 5% was split between black and white. I have been judged incorrectly by bosses because I didn’t agree with something also. I personally don’t hold any prejudice toward any color. I wish more people felt like I do but I know from comments friends have said in the past that I seem to be in a minority in my belief that color is just that a color and has nothing to do with the person. I have been called racist at work by others that know nothing about me. But I work in a prison and expect those things.
    One instance was when a couple of offenders asked to go into their cells after getting off of work. The first was black the second was white. Another offender, who has been just sitting in the dayroom decided he wanted into his cell and just went to his cell and stood by it. He was told no. We allow them to go in and out of their cells every hour and they had had an in & out less than 15 minutes ago. The other 2 had missed the in and out since they were at work. Anyway, the offender claimed we were being racist and that if he had been white we would have let him into his cell. Then the entire wing started to laugh because they all knew the first to be allowed into his cell was a black offender.

  • Linda Boldt

    These harrowing and horribly common examples of racism are a part of understanding racism in America.
    Understanding White Privilege is a different part of understanding racism in America. Jason should read: Peggy McINtosh’s White Privilege. She LISTS the privileges we enjoy. It’s as easy to understand as a punch in the gut.

  • Heidi Noonan-Day

    Hello! This is so beautifully written — appreciate your voice! Love authors who write so the reader can “hear” then. A gifted author, you are. (I just heard that last sentence in Yoda’s voice, btw.) I was a Woman Lawyer in the early 90s… (Funny how I have to put that qualifier on my profession), and would love to write a scholarly article with you sometime about the gender aspect of male privilege as well. It’s been quite an experience.

  • Art Garcia

    I have never seen BLM as an educated or objective type of group. Leaders within this organizations have committed crimes and further the bias this group currently has. Never have heard where BLM is involved to reduce black on black violence in communities that have some of highest homicide rates.

    • wordsonfire

      BLM’s objective is to hold the police and others in authority accountable for the systemic racist behavior. Just because YOU have never seen them as educated doesn’t mean that they aren’t highly educated and knowledgeable.

      Just because you don’t know what BLM is doing to help lift up their own communities as a whole is more of a failure on your eyesight than of their work and worth.

      Anyone who uses the term “black on black crime” as opposed to CRIME is actually engaging in some radicalized/racist thinking.

      All over the country we are beginning to criminalize first amendment rights. That you are equating BLM with criminals but not police officers who use the power and authority of their badges to terrorize and harm black communities means that you haven’t studied very much on the issue.

      Some communities literally prey upon the poor and the brown in a way they do not prey upon the white and middle class.

      Slashing taxes and then using the criminal justice system to criminalize people for unpaid parking tickets and other nuisance crimes that were created largely to create a criminal underclass that people like you can say “well they deserve it, they are criminals.”

    • jimbox

      You ARE the problem.

    • Dana

      You haven’t been looking or listening. And there are already organizations working to reduce black on black crime. Do you trolls even understand that your arguments are not original? There are answers to every “concern” you are trolling here. You would know if you would bother using Google. You don’t want to know.

      White-on-white crime also occurs with depressing regularity. But the first place your brain goes when you hear about crime against white people is oh God, the blacks must have done it. Nope. Take murder for an example, an American is highly more likely to die at the hands of someone from their own race than from someone of any other race. You do have a little more black-on-white murder than white-on-black, but there’s an explanation for that: blacks are more likely to move in white “territory” than the reverse. Because that’s why most crimes are intraracial rather than interracial–we kill, or rape, or steal from, people we are near and see daily. The more convenient the victim is, the more likely they are to become one. “Well then we should keep blacks out of white neighborhoods”–no, hold on there. By your logic we should keep whites out of white neighborhoods too. At the end of the day a white has a lot more to fear from another white than from any number of blacks. I have never had to be afraid of black people. I HAVE been harmed by WHITE people.

    • Ashley Ann Michele

      When will you stop with all the Black on Black crime foolishness? Do you not realize that ALL races kill one another. What about white on white crime? huh? All these husbands killing their wives? I’ve seen A LOT of white people doing that. However, it isn’t made out to be an issue. Black on Black crime was only created to try and make black people feel like they don’t have a say because of crimes committed by us to one another. Meanwhile, it is running rampant in other races but it is okay, because they are not black. Get a new things to speak about, educate yourself. Stop speaking such foolishness.

  • Lotte De Vroe

    I’m not from the US and normally feel like white privilege isn’t so much a thing in my home country, the Netherlands, but reading through this has made me realise that there would be countless examples of experiences that the non-white people in western Europe deal with on a daily basis. I’m sure I have been guilty without even realising.
    Thank you so much for the clear examples and detail. Eye opening and educational.

  • Ariel Gilbertson

    I love this article! I am white and I grew up in a minority neighborhood. I was envious of my black friend’s cool hair. As I was reading this I kept thinking, yes, I do know what this feels like. Yes I’ve been thought of as that white girl and that I was arrogant just because I was white and stupid just because I was white. Walk into a black church as a white girl. I absolutely loved worshiping there. Best church ever! My mom took us. But man, I was on the receiving end of nothing but stares and I felt very unwelcome. People kinda talked to us, but most gave us kinda angry faces. My black friends all knew where I lived. I never knew where they lived or was ever invited to their homes. When my black friends were insulted for being black it pissed me off. I knew they bled like me and laughed like me and were often smarter than me. But being excluded never bothered me. I loved my friends. It still doesn’t bother me. But often it was assumed I was rich or arrogant because of my skin color. In reality, in my childhood, I experienced eating bread or donuts or out of a dumpster many times. But it is uncomfortable the other direction to be assumed I’m racist or rich or arrogant just because of my skin color. I experienced being excluded from the black community I lived in simply because I was white. I was in the receiving end of hateful things simply because I was white and groups of black kids I didn’t know picked on me because of my skin color. In my direction it’s called white priveledge. But as a white person that priveledge doesn’t include being able to call it anything in the other direction. I want to make it clear that a little part of me still wishes I was black because I wanted to fit in and my friends were cool. I don’t see skin color because of my growing up experiences but I think it’s incredibly important to honor a person’s experiences and background and point of view. Just know that this can be a two way street. Which is an important point. We all have to work at overcoming our blind spots to others because we all have blind spots for every kind of thing, and people are just to fantastic to mis out on just because we snap into judgement.

  • lrs63

    Wow, that was enlightening and worthwhile. Thanks for sharing this. My daughter had the reverse problem of being a minority white person. Many of the black students were hostile towards her and it made learning difficult. I can relate to how it affects black children to some extent. This isn’t a contest, its just a reality. We could all gain from having more respect and empathy towards one another.

  • Patrick

    Thank you for sharing this piece of your life with the world. I thought that I was a very open minded person, but this helped to open my eyes further still. We always have more to learn.

  • R. D. Collins

    It seems to me that “white privilege” boils down to not having to put up with the crap that African-Americans and other people of color are forced to endure. Same for “male privilege.” I just hope I can avoid being a source of that crap.

  • Paul

    You are a condescending for no reason. Red lining- I know what that is don’t talk to me like I am a moron. It is ILLEGAL. You can’t deny someone a loan for being black it’s against the law! I think redlining WAS a very bad thing. However, you cannot do that now.

    Here’s proof of hypersegregation going down: https://www.princeton.edu/news/2015/05/18/hypersegregated-cities-face-tough-road-change#top

    A quote: “They found that the number of hypersegregated metropolitan areas in the United States dropped from 40 in 1970 to 21 in 2010.”

    You know very little about King’s “Letter” he wrote it over a year before the Birmingham was desegregated. And most interestingly it was not even published until AFTER the fact. ( a little know fact) I teach it every year, and you clearly don’t know much about it. I love that letter however it did not change things dramatically, practical action plan “Project C” and news coverage both helped.

    I don’t like racial discrimination especially because my daughter is black. Number one, King’s letter did not sway Birmingham practical action and financial pressure did, and a year later the civil rights act was made law. Two, redlining is illegal now. Hypersegreagation is down but there is still work to be done.

    Overall, black families had less wealth to pass down however, now things are moving in a positive way. Remember it has only been about 50 years of legal protections.

  • loopus

    Brenda Gaines Hunter and wordsonfire: I know that I should not be surprised by any examples of mistreatment of Black people by whites, whether individually or institutional/systemic. I like to think that, while I cannot possibly understand what it is like to walk every day in your shoes, that I try to educate myself and listen. Yet somehow I find myself shocked and stunned by your stories. Horrifying. Thank you for sharing what you have to endure so that those of us who have the privilege not to experience those horrors might continue to gain insight. It is not your responsibility to educate but I am grateful that you have done so here.

  • Kiki Fogg

    Ugh, the “the one in Massachusetts?” joke is the most annoying thing; I know people who say that whenever anyone around them even *mentions* Harvard.

    This was a really great explanation; thank you for your openness.

  • Mary Conrad

    Thanks. This helps.

  • wordsonfire

    The problem with this is it requires those of us who often suffer from PTSD to be the jungle gym upon which white people climb and build their skills. They feel no obligation to help us build any skills or fluency. It’s an extraction of information often in the most brutal and emotional way.

    It’s really about their disbelief and not about our experiences. It assumes too frequently that we are lying or whining so the stance taken is “convince me.”

    There are all sorts of tools to understand. There are books such as the Rage of the Privilege Class by Ellis Cose and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. There are movies like Hidden Figures and The Tuskegee Airmen.

    There are all sorts of studies and information relative to what our lived experiences are like.

    Often what is happening is what they really want is for us to say “oh no. we don’t experience any of that pain or discrimation.”

    Do you need to have someone who is raped tell you how horrible it is to be raped before you understand what rape does to a person?

    That’s why Lisa is saying that Lori is being more generous than she needed to be.

  • wordsonfire

    You weren’t being “trivial” you were being condescending and nasty. It’s true that he spelled the word privilege wrong. But that doesn’t make any he wrote less true or less authentic.

  • innerspacegirl

    THANK YOU for sharing this. These daily-life examples of casual prejudice are heart-breaking. As a 71-year-old white woman I know that I can’t possibly understand how erosive and corrosive it is to live on the receiving end of them. I was born to a family that believed in white entitlement even though my parents had black friends, but from a very, very young age I recall listening to the crap my parents espoused and thinking, “That doesn’t make any sense.” I continue to do my best to live my gut belief that prejudice is profoundly wrong, and as the current political climate unleashes more and more of it I am not only horrified, but ashamed because I know that in the eyes of many people of color my own skin automatically lumps me in with the haters. They’re fully justified in their cautious assumption until/unless there’s time to get to know me. I am the one with something to prove here, not the reverse.

  • wordsonfire

    Actually it was found in the past 10 years that banks like Wells Fargo intentionally targeted black communities and wiped out their wealth. That they gave people who would have qualified for 30 year fixed mortgages, loans with exploding ARMs that decimated their neighborhoods.

    That you so want to believe that this has all changed and isn’t happening isn’t borne out by the evidence of how much more interest the average black person pays even with good credit than a white person. There are still people sitting across the desk making the determination. If you aren’t a person who is savvy and knows how to negotiate such things, then you are at a great disadvantage.

  • I think a big underlying situation is that people who do not have black skin have a list of their own mistreatments that are not discussed. While reading through this list I thought of ten my own, inspired by thoughts of myself in the age range indicated. After actually writing out the list, I feel clearer and able to be compassionate without the ‘yeah but this happened to me’ thought going off in my mind.
    I think the big difference between social isolation experienced by non white people and that experienced by white people of other stereotyped groups – such as white immigrants, women, disabled peoples, and not traditionally gendered people – is that darker skinned people have a clear and obvious signifier as well as a rooted American history. There is a feeling of one’s hurts being ignored for being similar – in skin color.. and of course its not our choice to be in what sometimes seems to be the ‘attacker group’, when we have ourselves been attacked by dumb judgement.

    I don’t intend to cover up what you’ve written. There is a crass disregard of people’s individuality that is rampant in our homogenized American society. I think that the deeper issue lies in observing and supporting the desire to explore differences… and find better ways of describing variation, so that the necessity of bluntly grouping people falls away. (Dreams of a well educated society.)

  • marisa

    Hi JP –
    This is a fascinating and distressing observation. I’d like to learn more. Can you recommend some sources for me to read up on this issue? Maybe some organizations or individuals that are doing work to identify/address issues around deaf/disabled interactions with law enforcement?

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  • Adam Flowers

    I very much appreciated reading this article, and not to take away from any of the hardships anybody has faced due to racial motivations, but I would suggest that instead of saying these are white privileges I would say that these are human privileges. In other words it should be a human’s right not to have to experience any of these types of racially discriminatory situations. Not just a white person nor a black person nor any other color or race. I personally feel that to say it’s a white privilege could add to and exacerbate the problem as opposed to helping the problem. I am saying this as a white person who is married to a black person, also for most of my adult life my pastors have been black.

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  • jimbox

    Excellent. I for one have lost patience with this fragility, absence of empathy and lack of imagination. We do not have to do this work. The reemergence of the Alt White (more accurate than Alt Right) means white folks now have a stark choice and need to start doing their own heavy lifting of the moral burdens created by their ancestors and contemporaries. They will not be doing us favors but practicing redemption of their own souls. This pretending not to know by “good people” (actually accessories) deserves to be treated with the contempt it deserves. There is an almost bottomless reserve of materials in multimedia and books and essays to draw from. Please, join the Alt White if you must!

  • Justin Chevet

    Ok so I get it now. When I experience the hardships of life, such as failure, rejection, or adversity, its life. When YOU do, Because you are black…..its MY privilege! ahhhh!!! equality! lol

  • wordsonfire

    I’m too tired and frankly too bored with your “blame black people who are deficient arguments” to go find the research that demonstrates that without the great society programs that poverty would have been much worse. Nothing you says has ANYTHING to do with BLM. The point of BLM’s much like the work of civil rights advocates in the 1960s is to demand from the whiter and wider community that are considered “law abiding” that we deserve to matter. You’d never say to Italian people that they don’t deserve equal protection under the law until they solve the mafia. That’s what you are essentially saying. That black people don’t deserve equal treatment and protection under the law until they solve the problems that they largely can’t solve independently. They can’t manufacture assets and jobs in their communities. So much labor, assets and wealth has been intentionally stripped from the black communities it is shocking in its depth and breadth.

    Of course the programs didn’t CURE poverty. And you don’t get to blame the “great society programs” anymore because since the mid-1990s we got rid of “welfare as we know it” to appease white people’s hatred of black and brown bodies and the assumption that we just deserved to be be paid less and weren’t even worth subsistence even if there were no jobs and opportunities.

    Is Jet Magazine a white magazine? you really think that there aren’t all sorts of institutions and organizations throughout the black community run by blacks that exist to make young black men know they have value? Of course, it is OBVIOUS to anyone who pays attention that the larger society has never valued blacks. That it has done EVERYTHING in it power to devalue us. Which brings us back to BLM. Your statistics on “black on black homocide” are just charming. Have you ever looked at the number of white on white homocides? And that close to 85% of all white homocides are ALSO committed by white people on other white people? Of course all of these officers killing unarmed black men aren’t even counted as homocides at all, so they don’t even count in the numbers. No. We never use that term at all. Because we know that the only reason to use “black on black crime” is to mark ALL blacks with the acts of our criminal class and to pretend that we don’t care about these deaths. The simplest truth is that over 85% of homocides are committed by a person who already knows the other person. There are very few stranger danger crimes. If we actually policed with that knowledg, instead of stopping and frisking many young black men and treating them as though they are ALL criminals when we know the opposite to be true, we as a community could greatly decrease the number of homocides. The police spend a whole lot of their time criminalizing young black men who aren’t criminals at all. They do it with the tacit approval of people like you. Whom want to pretend that we just don’t care about our own. That we just are animals who engage in violence and death and don’t care to stop it. You narrative is INTENTIONALLY false.

    The idea that it’s just regular black folk killing one another and not people who are actively engaged in crimes is one of the great myths of the racist white community. If we offered more opportunities (which actually takes THE WHOLE community) and not just the black community. If we didn’t allow white police to terrorize THE WHOLE community. There are so many things required to get to a place that actually demonstrated that black lives matter. As a mother of a extremely high performing black child, BLM’s speaks for and with me about the life of MY child. They are demanding that people recognize his life matters. It’s not my JOB to go solve the problems created in this country by white supremacy. To demand that blacks now have to clean up the mess caused and created by white theft and disinvestment is to not hold the white community accountable and to pretend that blacks are solely responsible for their lot in life. One of the ways this narrative has been playing out. In the 1980s/early 1990s we heard a whole lot about the crack epidemic. How that was horrible. But we also heard that this caused black on black crime and predatory behavior and that we needed mandatory minimum sentences and we needed all sorts of militarization of the police to handle it. That blacks would have jobs if they just weren’t drug addicts. Now we have the opioid epidemic. And what do we hear? That whites have become addicts because they don’t have jobs. The narrative has entirely flipped to one of compassion. That we need to treat it as a public health problem. That’s why we need BLM. Because it is clear that Blacks Lives don’t matter. To believe you have value and are capable of being valuable is a SOCIETAL function not just black society but our entire country.

    There is pretty much no more racist and untrue term that is used in our society that black on black crime. It immediately signals a person that doesn’t care about black lives and only about putting down blacks and harming us. Your purpose in bringing. it up, and Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson up is to denigrate and shame the black community. It isn’t out of CARE or CONCERN. Al Sharpton is in no way the man he was in the 1970s. Jesse Jackson’s sermon today was about how we needed to care for our environment. If we just awarded the highest office in the world to a person who boasts about sexually assaulting women, who started multiple businesses that frauded people out of their savings, that refused to pay for bills that he had accrued and now denies the need for any type of environmental protection. Then it’s time for you to put to rest that somehow Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are immoral. it’s clear that white people don’t give two figs about morality and honor. So lets not pretend they’d do.

    Please stop talking about BLM because it is clear that you have no understanding in any way of the challenges facing black communities. Take some time, get educated. Stop pretending like you know something it is clear that you don’t know. If you don’t stop using your racist and inflammatory rhetoric now that you’ve been educated it will mean that you don’t mind being a racist and demonstrating that you don’t care about black people at all. Which means you need to sit down and be quiet because you have nothing to contribute to the conversation at all.

    • Dana

      *standing ovation*

    • DB

      Although I agree with most of what you said I do feel compelled to point out that saying” it’s clear that white people don’t give two figs about morality and honor. So lets not pretend they’d do.” is pretty damn racist. Not all white people support Chump er I mean Trump, and also there are AA and even worse women who do support him. I live in a city that had a riot when a armed black youth was shot and killed by the police, rioters burned a gas station to the ground that had nothing to do with the death of this boy. These innocent business owners were victims to the BLM attitude, when this kid was armed and committing a crime and the police were doing their job protecting the community. The campaign should be ALL LIVES MATTER. No one riots when a white criminal is killed by police or a cop is killed by a criminal. Don’t get me wrong, I believe some cops do racial profiling and that black people are treated like criminals before there is any indication or evidence that they’ve done something wrong. I do think that someone needs to police the police and that some of them do overstep their boundaries and abused their power. Not all cops are the same, just as not all white, black, yellow, brown, orange, or flamingo pink people are the same. We’re all humans, we all should have the same opportunities, when that’s a reality society as a whole will benefit. ALL LIVES MATTER.

  • Daniel Schegh

    With all due respect, this just demonstrates the delusion of the concept of “white privilege”, your own dismissiveness of the experience of many white people. First, you confuse “lack of discrimination” with “privilege”. A privilege is something unearned, something abnormal, something not expected. It’s not the same thing as a lack of negative things. A person just above the poverty line isn’t “rich” just because they aren’t “poor”. Discrimination is bad, but lacking it is not, in any sense, a privilege.

    You also claim “the white privilege in this situation is being able to move into a “nice” neighborhood and be accepted not harassed, made to feel unwelcome, or prone to acts of vandalism and hostility.”

    So you are suggesting that no white people every experience not being accepted or harassed, or made to feel unwelcome, or prone to acts of vandalism? I can name plenty of white people who have had that experience, including ones who experienced it in predominately white neighbourhoods and predominately black ones. And, what about Asians? Is there an Asian privilege? Your position is based on stereotypes, not on the reality of what real people experience, nor the range. You smear all people of a race based on cherry-picked, one-sided anecdotes and don’t care about scenarios that do the opposite.

    Or this: “if you’ve NEVER had a defining moment in your childhood or your life where you realize your skin color alone makes other people hate you, you have white privilege.” Again, a lack of discrimination is not the same as a privilege, but if it helps, my own children have experienced racial hatred based on being white. I’ve had to explain to them why they saw somebody on the news screaming in hatred about white males. Even criticism of people for being white (and male) is being taught in their schools. Again, you aren’t representing reality.

    In fact, most of your answers fall into the “lack of discrimination” = “privilege” category, which makes them all incorrect. They are all examples of discrimination, not of white privilege. Again, what about other races? Are Asians privileged? Are blacks who don’t experience discrimination privileged? Are whites who do experience discrimination not privileged?

    Or this one: “if you’ve never been on the receiving end of the assumption that when you’ve achieved something it’s only because it was taken away from a white person who “deserved it” — that is white privilege”. No, what you’ve described is a consequence of affirmative action. It has nothing to do with race, and the lack of it isn’t a “privilege”. If you make it easier for left-handers to get into schools or jobs, then people who meet left-handers won’t know whether they got their on merit or because of the lower standards to let them in. It’s not a race thing, but a “person was helped” thing. The only possible way to ever get rid of it is to get rid of affirmative action. You have a trade-off here; if you make it easier, then it’s easier to get in — but then you won’t be judged on merit because the rules aren’t based on merit for you. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. That’s not racism — is straight up reason and logic and people can’t turn off their reasoning skills.

    All you have done here is reiterate the problems with the concept of “white privilege”. You use stereotypes of whites, stereotypes of blacks, ignore any other races, and equate a lack of discrimination as a privilege. This is why you won’t ever convince most people of the concept of “white privilege”; it just isn’t a real thing. It is people trying to turn a bad thing that happens to people — discrimination or black people — isn’t an “original sin” for all white people. There is no reasonable case for that. It commits the fallacy of division, an assumption that something true of the group as a whole, such as average, applies to individuals, which it doesn’t.

    You can’t win this argument because you are, in fact, wrong. You’ve framed it all wrong, built wrong assumptions and stereotypes, and built logical fallacies right into your criticisms.

    Further, “discrimination against people because of their race” is something we can all get behind. Blaming, criticizing, or insulting all people of another race doesn’t solve anything. In fact, it increases hatred and discrimination. That’s very clear from the psychology of ingroups and outgroups, and modeld well with Realistic Group Conflict Theory. Not only are you wrong, you aren’t helping anybody; you are only making things worse. The correct view is to address discrimination based on race for what it is: discrimination based on race.

  • Elle Ellie

    1) http://www.theroot.com/open-letter-to-white-people-who-are-obsessed-with-black-1790856298

    2) “Whites are 6 times as likely to be murdered by another white person as by a black person; and overall, the percentage of white Americans who will be murdered by a black offender in a given year is only 2/10,000ths of 1 percent (0.0002). This means that only 1 in every 500,000 white people will be murdered by a black person in a given year. Although the numbers of black-on-white homicides are higher than the reverse (447 to 218 in 2010), the 218 black victims of white murderers is actually a higher percentage of the black population interracially killed than the 447 white victims of black murderers as a percentage of the white population.
    In fact, any given black person is 2.75 times as likely to be murdered by a white person as any given white person is to be murdered by an African American”

    3) 5 facts that shatter the myth of black on black crime

  • dclach

    The pervasiveness of affirmative action causes most of the reaction to acceptance of blacks at “elite” colleges. It’s not uniform nor invariable, but it is common. This works most against applicants of Asian extraction. I deplore both. As to Harvard graduates being conceited; this is quite possible and is not necessarily a function of the color of one’s skin. It’s part of the Ivy league package. “Masters” in a college setting has no reference to slavery and you snowflakes should be intelligent enough to understand that; the term is part of the educational package which was (largely) imported from the UK. As to the material studied: the idea is (or ought to be) to learn from the best which has been thought or written. This is in the context of the Western Civilization which has largely shaped today’s world. It’s not meant to present role models. If you require Malcolm X as a role model, you at least should have found yourself in the wrong place at Harvard. Malcolm X has no place with the others your list. I very much think that all people should be treated with respect, without regard to their ethnic background. This means no one should automatically be regarded as “special”, but each should be given every opportunity, whether black or white ‘red-neck’ and dirt poor or upper middle class or wealthy. I’m sorry if you were not so treated.

  • wordsonfire

    Actually a 3.9 in a non-weighted school would be a 4.9 in a weighted GPA. The elite colleges know the difference between the two and which schools allow for a GPA above a 4.0. So yeah, a 4.9 is a VERY high GPA. In California they weight GPAs. In many private schools they do as well. So a 3.9 GPA in a non-weighted school is the same as a 4.9 in a weighted school. You can’t get above a 4.0 at the school he went to. So your note that people get a 4.0 or above wouldn’t apply at all. I’m sure you recognize that a 4.9 is a SUPER high score. That’s the whole an IB Diploma and 7 5s or above on AP tests. In his 4 years of high school he never took a class that wasn’t honors/AP or IB. That’s what gets you into the “weighted” territory of being advanced classes.

    I knew all sorts of white kids who got the same GPAs and the same scores who did get their first choice.

  • I.S.Johnson

    Excellent points. Also ” Would you laugh if someone insisted that in order to receive equal protection under the law that Italians had to solve the problem of the Mafia first?” — that is very well put.

  • I.S.Johnson

    You have nailed it.

  • This is my situation too. My grandfather was a pharmacist in the ’20s and ’30s, and my father was able to go to Brown as a result, meaning decades later that I had a family who was able to backstop me whenever I ran into difficulty when I was younger — a huge advantage. I see this as a bit less cut-and-dried than Lori’s examples, though, because it’s not universal, e.g., there are plenty of white people in places like Appalachia who don’t have this advantage. But it’s still an important part of the conversation, since there’s an undeniable relationship between race and class in the U.S.

    • Art Garcia

      Thank you Steve. But most people on this page play the victim. My Dad who came from Mexico in 1922 was a great example. There were no social nets back them. You starved if you did not work. That was the motivator.

  • orion58

    All that is BS from a whiner. Blacks brought most of that crap on themselves by their desire to be outsiders. I’m 59. I moved to Charleston in the late 60s and the only black person I had ever known was my uncle’s maid Eula in Albany. She was a cheerful, sweet Christian woman and I believed, naively that ALL blacks were like her. Then Charleston opened my eyes. I got bussed to a black school and had to fight blacks who hated me because I was white, every. Single. Day. To keep from being beaten to a pulp. It was a nightmare. My parents took me to talk to the Principal and made me take off my shirt. My whole torso was purple with bruises. So forgive me saying boo hoo. Your own race were savages to me. I put it behind me. My youngest daughter is married to a black man and I gave her away at the wedding. Hardly a day passes I’m not in their home and my mixed grandchildren are the best things in my life. Learn to do what I did: don’t let the worst examples define an entire race. Let it GO.

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  • Mark Nordell

    Thank you. At 71 the reality of white privilege living in rural Minnesota is so very apparent.

  • Jim All

    The fact is many whites who are children of alumni or rich actually have horrible grades. It’s the dirty secret the press hides from the public. Go subpoena some records and you will find that white alumni and donor children often have far worse grades than any affirmative action beneficiary. Now that’s some privilege!

    • Tom

      Of course you are right. Follow the money trail. And the other dirty secret is that conservatives in higher education are often ignored or even passed over for promotion for their opinions.

  • Brenda E. Kelly

    Any child would have been unspeakably blessed to have you for a mother, to encourage them, support them, and help them grow. And for your black child, to fight for them, and fight HARD! Any child who could do as much as yours did had a loving home as a solid foundation. That your child did so with so much to fight against is testament to you both. That’s not to take away anything from your clearly gifted child, that no doubt still fights battles on a daily basis that he should never have had to fight. But it occurs to me that maybe you haven’t heard as often the compliments you deserve as well. He is very lucky to have you. <3

  • Dana

    Yeah, and European Christians have murdered millions since 1492. What’s your point?

  • Dana

    That last thing you list, “out of wedlock”, does not even matter. Pay close attention to the outcome studies for children of single mothers versus children of single fathers. WAIT. What children of single fathers? AHA. Researchers don’t bother studying them most of the time. Why? Because it would come out that the kids of single fathers do nearly as well or exactly as well as the kids of married parents. (Although they do worse on teen pregnancy. That’s right. Worse than the kids of single mothers.) Can’t have research proving that men have more resources than women. That might take the wind out of the sails of idiots who laugh at the idea of pay equity.

    Social programs do not create poverty. The fact of more people getting on the rolls means the rules changed on who qualified. The reason “liberals are happier the more people get into social programs”, as Rush Limbaugh used to put it, is because they’re happy those people are getting HELP. If it were up to people like you, the poor would keep themselves to themselves, starve quietly and genteelly on ketchup sandwiches, and you would never have to hear about them. Well, tough. You’re just gonna have to keep hearing about them. Because some of us actually give a damn.

    No one could “make money from racism” if racism were not there. So it would seem people like YOU created this problem, and now you’re gonna complain about it. No. Solve it. Quit being a dick to people of color. The irony here, too, is that you have a Latino last name. I run into Latinos like you from time to time. Do you think acting like this makes whites like you better? You better think again. It doesn’t work for so-called “respectable blacks” either. Stand up for what’s right, not what makes you popular. You’ll have a lot less to regret in the end.

  • Commentator8

    This is a wonderful take down of ignorance regarding white privilege.

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  • rspyke

    Having been poor and white all my life, I wonder if a lot of what passes as white privilege is really about economic privilege. More than of few of the examples given concerning not having it as good as someone else have applied to my life, yet I’m white.

  • Jennifer Habersaat

    Back in the ’80s a black coworker and I became best pals at work. We had lunch together nearly every day and talked about a great many things. After about 3 years, I decided it might be ok to ask him a question I’d never understood: What is white privilege?

    He gave me a look as if to say, “Oh, here we go. This is going to be bad.” He did what was done in this article and gave me stories from his life.

    I got it. On the first story. I think he was relieved that I wasn’t going to deny it or get upset. I really did want to know and accepted what he had to say. Yes, I’d already known about such things, but never quite meshed the ideas into “white privilege.” I saw the incidents as racism, but didn’t have the experience to turn it around to how I was privileged. It was enlightening and i was glad I asked.

  • wordsonfire

    We have all sorts of systems set up to deal with crime in the black community. From the actual criminal justice system that spends too much time harassing people who aren’t engaging in bad behaviors to innovative on the street programs like MadDads.

    Black Lives Matter is EXPLICITLY set up to deal with the inequity we face when dealing in any way with the criminal justice system. That is its specific focus.

    Stop trying to insist that you get to say what should be of importance to our community. And where a movement should focus its attention to mollify YOU. It is clear that you don’t know much about it. It is clear that you don’t understand how unfairly blacks are treated by the criminal justice system even when we are behaving perfectly. The insistence that we can’t actively want to reduce crime in our community–a completely separate and different issue–while demanding that we be treated with equity by those whom have been hired with our dollars to supposedly protect us is growing tedious.

    Give it up already. You keep showing by your words that you both don’t know and don’t care about our community in any way.

  • wordsonfire

    My point was that Jet is a black publication. You seem to think that blacks never talk about crime and how to solve it in our community and then quoted Jet. I thought it weird being that if its in Jet–a black magazine for black audiences–that this might be an indicator to YOU that your premise is entirely false.

    There is no reaching you. You have already made up your mind which is filled with erroneous information. You revel in your incorrect biases.

  • wordsonfire

    Again. It’s very possible that they believe they are victims BECAUSE THEY ARE VICTIMS. Not because they want to make stuff up or are just whiners. I know that I’m weary of livining in this white country with its blindness and meanness. It takes a lot to get up every single day because of having to deal with people like you. It just sucks the life, the love and the hope out of people as you basically don’t see us as human. You don’t even really understand how harshly and unfairly you judge black people.

    • Art Garcia

      No that is not the case. It is just that I am not an enabler. If you are weary in living in this white country, you do have a choice to move somewhere else if that suits you.
      Guess many Mexican Americans felt the same way at one time. I grew up in the barrio.

  • taprooters


    • Art Garcia

      What about it?

  • Tom

    White privilege? Being a middle class white male who had the privilege of paying taxes to support government programs that were heavily weighed in favor of minorities for the last forty years I would like to say “you are welcome.” Every time I hear garbage like this and the phrase white culture as if white people share the same culture. It shows the ignorance of the people who live in a bubble So the Italian culture is the same as the Scottish culture? How about the Swiss and French cultures are they the same. Or let’s look at the different cultures of people that come from the Caribbean, who by the way do just fine in this horrible racist country. Or those non white people from India and Pakistan who excel scholasticly even though the racist system wants to put them down. Hey I have a radical theory, perhaps it’s good parenting and a household with two parents. Oh heck that can’t be it. So the person who wrote this complained that the neighbors kid threw rocks in his pool. First were your parents not allowed to buy this house in a predominantly white neighborhood? No huh. We’re your parents denied a loan? No, huh they must have some special deal with the white bank. You must have privilege of some sort because my parents could not afford a house with pool. And the neighborhood kid was not nice? Gee that never happened to me. Everyone has been nice to me my whole life. But here are a few things that will help you in life. First and this may be the most important thing, no one cares if you are poor, no one cares if your daddy didn’t love you, no one cares if people are mean to you, no one gives a dam if you don’t like something. Whine to your mommy about that stuff and get your sorry butt up and try to make your place in the world. Because guess what? Suck it up buttercup money talks and BS walks. Welcome to the real world. Oh yeah don’t cry until you try.

  • Tom

    I can tell you that as a white male that in my youth I went to a government job training program where I asked the person whose job was to help the entry level people “what training do you offer?” She would not tell me she just kept saying “No you need to tell me what you are interested in.” and was rude in her demeanor. She was black, strangely when the black person who came after me was told “Here let me show you what we offer training in.” Was she racist? It seemed so to me but I left and found a job on my own. Once again my white privilege had escaped me. Is there racism? Of course there is but it does not belong to a single skin color. If you don’t believe me read the book White Girl Bleed A Lot. It may open your eyes. Because you see ignorance is also shared by those that ignore the realities of life and it has nothing to do with skin color.

  • Tom

    The only problem with the idiocy of picking people by race instead of ability is that you end up with an administration like Obama’s that was not only a total disaster economically but militarily. Doubling the national debt while both wars were winding down. He did manage to get lots of tax payer money into the pockets for his friends who are now funneling some back in his pocket. The Who had the lyrics in a song “Meet the new boss same as the old boss.” I have never seen so many suckered in my 62 years:)

  • Justin Barnes

    No. He was an outsider, that would have happened regardless.

    No. How a woman dresses should not dictate her safety or how she is treated.

    All I am saying is that quite a bit of this story is based in negative treatment that comes from being an outsider in general. Moving around quite a bit in my childhood taught me that it doesn’t really matter about your color, race, or gender, as much as those are just things people will target as a result.

    And I came on a bit strong because the race and religion issue being compared like that isn’t fair whatsoever. So some police in a specific place harassed him for not having beliefs that aligned with the locals. But there were never segregation laws, and in general the majority of the nation will not bat an eye towards him while they easily judge and discriminate against minorities.

  • SnapTrap

    No thank you, madam. I decline the shackles of you “approval” and therefor have self-censored my comment.