Look, white folks, when I tell you about the existance of white priviliage it is not to make you feel guilty. It’s to make you fucking wake up. The fact that you feel guilty is evidence that you aren’t paying attention because, once again, you are focusing on you rather that the effect of this society ON ME. The fucking conversation is about ME.
You remember Carley Simon’s song “You’re So Vain”? If you listen to it superficially, you’re like “Damn Carley you’re stupid! Of course this song is about him!” But you would be totally wrong. The song is about her. That’s what it’s like talking about white priviliage and my experiences as a Black woman with some of you. You want to focus on making sure I know “you’re not like that.” Well, no shit. If I thought you were, I wouldn’t be wasting my time. But you waste my time and devalue my experience by not accepting it for what it is.
When I insist that we need to teach more comprehensive history in schools that tells the truth about America’s multicultural past and the transgressions against Native American, Asian, Mexican, and yes, Black peoples I’m not stuck in the past. I realize that the past informs the future. For example, when we ignore the realities of America’s past we end up lying to ourselves about “American exceptionalism”. Exceptional to what?
The concept of white privilege doesn’t mean that your life is easy because you are white. It means that you live in a nation in which to default is white. It means you see positive images of white life all around you. It means you assume fictional characters are white- even when those characters are specifically not white in the book. It’s the fact that those same characters are white washed when the story is brought to the screen because Black heroes and heroines don’t sell. It means that the characters that look like you don’t follow the same old stereotypical trope.
It means that you don’t have to think about some of the things I do in the real world. Like as a Black mother, when I go out with my children and without my husband, it’s assumed I’m 1. a single mother and 2. on welfare. Or when my husband and I used to go out on dates before the kids, it was assumed by the waiter that he couldn’t pay the bill. Or that we’ve been pulled over for diving a vehicle that the police officer didn’t think we should be able to afford. Or teaching my girls how to be extra vigilant when it comes to their sexuality. Or worrying over having a son, since he’s born with a target on his back.
These are just a few examples of what white privilege means. It doesn’t include the impact on job numbers, or incarceration rates or adoptions. My point is that guilt is not the reaction I’m looking for. I’m looking for acknowledgement and action to help make these things better. Hell, I’m just looking for someone to listen and actually hear what I am saying. I’m just looking for acknowledgement of my experience.