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What Is White Privilege?

Nick Englehart

Posted on June 8, 2020 19:15

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I take a deep sincere look at my own life and try to identify what the term "white privilege" actually means.

What does it look like? There is a general assumption from people intent on keeping the current system that it is a made-up magical power. A force that in reality does not exist. After all, we've never really seen it.

I don’t make a million dollars a year. I didn’t go to Harvard. I’ve been turned down from job applications, so I don’t know what you’re talking about? What does white privilege look like? Like most of life's greatest revelations, in order to find understanding, you must look at the little things of everyday life. Those little things that reside within yourself.

Where is it? Everyone looks like me. It doesn’t matter where I go. Everyone looks like me. Teachers, doctors, authority, 44 out of 45 presidents. You learn this shocking lesson the first time you walk into a room where you are the outlier. You are the lone face in a crowd of perceived difference. Too many people will never understand that feeling. Too many people would never step foot in that room. They choose to stay out of challenging spaces because they are afraid.

That’s what every day is like for millions of People of Color. Walking into white classrooms and courthouses. Dealing with white authority and white institutions. They have to walk in. They aren't given a choice.

What does it look like? I’ve been pulled over by the police three times for bad driving. I’ve never been scared. I was let go on a ticket going 60 mph in a residential zone. When they pulled me over my first thought was what am I going to tell my mom, not, am I going to see my mom. I was let off with a stern warning. He told me he could take my license away. Instead, he followed me to my house, told my mother what I did and let me go. I was a young, white teenager in a suit and tie. I was "respectable."

What does it feel like? White privilege is not just economic success. It is daily security. It is the knowledge that I will wake up today and every day thereafter unhindered in everything. I can birdwatch in the park, I can sell water for school fundraisers, I can ring a stranger's doorbell, or have a barbecue. I have no fear, I have protection.

I don’t know if it’s appropriate here to quote Spiderman, but what the heck: "With great power comes great responsibility." You may not have started racism, but your existence in a system that continually relies on it creates responsibilities. Those responsibilities do not mean you have to be out marching or preaching.

Like every first step out of ignorance, it begins with a little bit of knowledge. Figuring out what your world looks like in other people's eyes, and what they’re life looks like in your own. What is White Privilege? White privilege is me. 

Nick Englehart

Posted on June 8, 2020 19:15

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Source: NME

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