The Absolute Clearest Way I Know To Explain White Privilege
Want to see some people get mad? It doesn’t take much, only two words. Don’t believe me? Buckle up and watch this…
HANG ON! NOW WAIT A MINUTE! I can already picture people hunched over their keyboard as we speak getting ready to let us all know how wrong those two words are. First of all, you don’t have to share your personal story about how you grew up eating ketchup mixed with hot water for dinner every night, walked 22 miles through terrain comparable to Grozny, Russia to go to school, you earned everything you have in life and your white.
There is no need to get upset or elaborate about how much you have never experienced white privilege. Seriously, you don’t have to because those two words are not meant for you.
They aren’t actually meant for any one white person at all. Those words are intended to describe a systemic sociological organization in totality. Now, why might someone feel that way?
Well here is the thing, life in a lot of ways can be compared to a race because from the moment we are born life has a finite finish line. We don’t know when that finish line will come, however, until it comes we are all competing to get as far as we can in life. In reality, the race of life is more like a relay race, because when we reach our finish line, we all end up passing something on to the generations of those still living. The race of life is both an individual event and a collective sport in which we share our progress with those we share similarities with.
We all say, “ok here is the baton, this is as far as I got in the race, it’s your turn now.” Then the next generation takes the baton and continues to run for progression.
See privilege is a funny thing because not of us know when we have it. However, we all can easily see when we don’t have it. Now, it is in the race of life that the words “white privilege “gains their significance. Because there is a reason that the median income for African Americans is 41% and Hispanic Americans is 39% less than white Americans.
In the history of North America, White Americans had a 244-year head start over African Americans in the relay race of life in which they weren’t enslaved; a 336-year head start over African Americans in which they had the same educational opportunities; a 346-year head start over African Americans to have equal civil rights; a 347-year head start over African Americans for the equal right to vote; a 350-year head start over African Americans for equal housing rights; a 225-year head start over African Americans, since the emergence of the United States, to have a political leader reach the height of fourth in the line of presidential secession (Colin Powell, in 2001); and a 232-year head start over African Americans to have a black president of the United States.
Taking the most dramatic of those figures, and the average life expectancy of a person from the 1600’s to 1863, White Americans had an over four generation head start in the relay race of life over African Americans and minorities. Take, the remaining of those above figures, and hopefully, you can see that minorities have been running from behind for quite a while. So before you get mad, or dismissive over the two words “white privilege” at least be willing to acknowledge why they even exist.
Try not to fall into the trap that the mere suggestion of white privilege exists, is in itself racist. Now, I stipulate this is my opinion, and therefore inherently subjective by interpretation. However, if a race points out they are disproportionally represented, that doesn’t mean it is racist due to the mere mention of race. Rather, that group is not asking for more than others; they are only asking for the same.
Please understand I’ve not said any of this to make someone who is white feel ashamed. Nor, have I said that any one of you didn’t characteristically earn what you presently have. Please accept no one, not the minorities who cry out against white privilege, literally no one, wants to take anything away from you. They merely want to be able to have the same.
Now, I want to direct you back to something I said early on, which is in truth, the solution to the overall problem. If you recall, I said, “The race of life is both an individual event and a collective sport in which we share our progress with those we share similarities with.” The solution to the idea of white privilege is we make a conscious choice to consider the similarities of all human beings to the paramount concern. So ignoring history, or the existence of something, doesn’t make it disappear. However, acknowledging it and choosing live above it will.