What is white privilege? It’s the level of societal advantage that comes with being seen as the norm in America, automatically conferred irrespective of wealth, gender or other factors. It makes life smoother, but it’s something you would barely notice unless it were suddenly taken away — or unless it had never applied to you in the first place.
(Christine Emba, Washington Post, January 16, 2016)
White privilege is a set of advantages provided to white Americans simply for being born white. Whites have privilege regardless of whether they see, acknowledge, condone, or agree with it; it’s not a choice. White privilege is ubiquitous and invisible (to many white people) because of its insidious nature and the way in which institutional racism works to simultaneously create and hide its crimes.
The inability to recognize that many of the advantages whites hold are a direct result of the disadvantages of other people, contributes to the unwillingness of white people, even those who are not overtly racist, to recognize their part in maintaining and benefiting from white supremacy.
(excerpt from Univ of Massachusetts student website on white privilege).1
Macy Sto. Domingo in her piece from 2014 entitled, 18 Things white people seem to not understand (Because, white privilege), provided a list of 18 examples of white privilege, many of which are noted by other writers. Here are some of them:
White privilege is:
- Being able to move into a new neighborhood and being fairly sure that your neighbors will be pleasant to you and treat you with respect.
- Being able to seek legal, financial and medical help without having your race work against you.
- Living in a world where you are taught that people with your skin tone hold the standard for beauty.
- Never being told to, “get over slavery”.
- Arrogantly believing that reverse racism actually exists.
- Being able to fight racism one day, then ignore it the next.
- Having your words and actions attributed to you as an individual, rather than have them reflect members of your race.
- Being able to talk about racism without appearing self-serving.
- Not having to teach your children to be aware of systematic racism for their own protection.
- Not having to acknowledge the fact that we live in a system that treats people of color unfairly politically, socially and economically and choosing, instead, to believe that people of color are inherently less capable.
- Being able to ignore the consequences of race.
I would add to her list:
- Being able to ignore, and not discuss, racism.
- Being considered the “baseline” or the norm.
- Being respected, given the benefit of the doubt.
- Not having assumptions made about your intelligence because of your race.
- Being able to trust that the police are basically on your side and looking out for you.
White privilege is a direct manifestation of white supremacy. In order for us to dismantle and destroy both white supremacy and racism it is crucial to recognize and acknowledge white privilege.
- Christine Emba, Washington Post, January 16, 2016