However, with such contrasting theories and narratives, the effect has been to bring the most vocal and outspoken members of both sides to renew their debates that have been occurring with increasing frequency over the past year or two. In addition, with the debates, comes the typical white person denial that is excessively common among these situations.
In the white community, it’s obvious that they believe that African Americans, and other people of color, have had the same rights and opportunities that white people have. To them, the end of slavery, or the civil rights movements of the 1960’s point out that everything has been equal for all. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, and the longer that the Caucasian American community decides to ignore that this lack of equality still exists, it will persist and cause harm to everyone involved that isn’t white. This isn’t a situation that can be solved with one article, or one change in the belief structure of a single individual. The reality is, this problem exists in many forms and angles. The theme is racism, but what components make up that theme? These individual components MUST be attacked in order to bring down the monster, and today I have decided to focus on white privilege.
So if these beliefs exist for the majority of the white community, then how is it possible that so many people can be wrong? As usual, the answer comes down to perspective, and many white Americans simply lack the ability to change theirs. The smallest of journeys in the shoes of a person of color reveals that white privilege is almost the opposite of what Caucasians perceive. The secret of white privilege isn’t what a white person loses while another ethnicity gains. White privilege exists as the experiences that a white person DOES NOT HAVE because they are white. That’s it. It really is that simple.
White privilege means that a white person isn’t followed around Wal-Mart, asked every five minutes if they need help, because the store believes that they will steal something. People of color get this all the time. White privilege means that a white male is less likely to be pulled over for trumped up traffic offenses. Black people are pulled over all the time for minor offenses, that is, if the police officer isn’t just making one up. White privilege is the increased chances of educational grants, business or personal loans, or even just a job interview. Latino man Jose Zamora was having trouble getting interviews, despite posting his resume 50 – 100 times a day. Later, when he dropped the “s” in his name and became “Joe”, job offers came pouring in.
Is it sinking in yet? White privilege isn’t a gift whites are owed due to their ethnicity. It’s not a reward that you keep, or a life’s investment returned from a divine being. Instead, white privilege is all the things that simply will never be known to Caucasians, because in large, it doesn’t happen to them. While the logical response may be to pretend it doesn’t exist, like out of sight, out of mind. That only solves the problem for the white people, and that is perhaps just as bad as the most sinister form of the practice. If a person is aware that white privilege exists, and works to deny it for self-preservation, a case could be made that this person would almost be as bad as the person who purposefully benefits off white privilege for greed, at the expense of the people of color. While it is my hope that the majority of the white community aren’t like these last examples, it’s obvious there is still a long way for the Caucasian American community to go. The first step though, is on the people of my ethnicity, the white people, to learn to recognize what they are missing, and work in unison with all the people of color to ensure that they start missing it too. Anything less is unacceptable.