One White Woman's Take on White Privilege

I have said & written this over & over. It is easy for us white folks to sit in our houses in our white neighborhoods & pass judgment on black folks. Yet,  we have no clue what it's like to tell our sons how to be safe from cops when they walk down a street. We don't know what it's like to be stopped & frisked for no reason. We have no reason to have an inherent distrust of the justice system because our youngsters aren't serving 25 yrs for minor offenses. As a matter of fact, we weren't sent to separate schools for years & years. We weren't denied entrance to most universities because we were white. Our people weren't lynched as sport. We aren't denied the ability to buy a home we want & can afford. We aren't followed around stores as a matter of routine. We act like black folks should just move on, let the past go. I have friends my age & younger who had to go in a separate door for "coloreds" in dept stores or were only allowed to shop on the basement level. Never ever happened to us. Another friend was one of ten African American kids selected to integrate an all white high school in Florida & every night she cried & begged her parents to let her go back to her old school. But she should just get over her experiences.

We don't send our kids out with "cop kits" like the one my friend carried with him when he was a teen. He lived in a white middle class neighborhood & never left the house without paper, pencil, change & ID. Why? Because when he was stopped walking in his own neighborhood, he could write down the cop's badge number & have change to call his folks when he was taken to jail.
Remember when Professor Henry Gates was arrested for going into his own home? And Pres. Obama called the cop's behavior stupid? There wasn't an outcry about racial profiling from whites. No we were outraged over the President calling the cop's behavior stupid. These are the kinds of things that happen all the time & we still don't get it.  We don't see the bigger picture.

We denounced Mike Brown as a thief & bully although he had no history of either. We condemn him as if shop lifting should be punishable by death. We passed judgment on him as if our kids never would do or have never done the same thing. Darren Wilson did not know about the theft. He stopped the kids, and make no mistake they were kids just like our nineteen year olds are kids for jaywalking. Wilson  referred to Brown as "it" in his testimony. He characterized Brown as a demon and a hulk, but we still defend him as if he weren't a racist piece of shit. We won't believe the black witnesses because you know all blacks stick up for each other, yet we quote one black person  we agree with as if that one black person represents all black folks. We cheer comedian Kevin Hart for saying it's "2014. We need to get equal" as if somehow black folks can just make themselves equal.

We drive by the projects & pass judgement on the residents. If only they'd find a job. If only they'd clean up their neighborhoods. If only they'd quit killing each other. We never look at the history of systemic racism in this country that created this condition.

We use terms like "black on black crime" to justify cops killing black men & boys, as if there is no white on white crime. Or we say "blacks need to get over slavery" as if hundreds of years of bondage & Jim Crow laws would have no impact on black folks  today. We justify voter ID laws that are aimed at suppressing minority voters because "you have to show ID to get on an airplane." Well, flying isn't a constitutionally protected right. And we stand idly by while the President of the United States is vilified for being a black man. We don't see that the message to him is a message to black folks across America. Do you think all these experiences are something one can just get over?

I'm tired of whites who claim to be colorblind. We are not colorblind. We deal in stereotypes all the time. We pass judgment based on our perceptions all the time. If Pres Obama can make it, why can't other black folks. Are you kidding me? That's like saying if Bush could be president, why can't every dumb ass white person do the same.

Can you imagine how enraged you'd be if you were treated this way. You wouldn't be pissed as hell? But instead of empathy we claim to be victims. We personalize the reaction of black folks to hundreds of years of oppression by saying "I never owned a slave."

The truth is whites are privileged. The sooner we acknowledge that our whiteness insulates us from the systemic abuses of our institutions then the sooner we can end the racial divide in this country. But we won't. We'd rather pretend we got to where we are by our own hard work & if blacks would just work hard, they could have what we have. In spite of overwhelming proof to the contrary, that's what we believe.

We need to quit whining about being victims of "reverse racism" & affirmative action. We need need to stop denying the white privilege we enjoy. We need to stop passing judgment on a community of people based on our own stereotypes & misconceptions especially since most of us don't have black friends nor have ever engaged in conversations with a black person about anything of substance. We need to stand up & demand change just like thousands across the country are protesting what happened in Ferguson. We don't have to take to the streets, but we must acknowledge that too many systems in this country are rigged. (I wrote this before I heard about the grand jury decision on the Eric Garner murder.)

If you're getting pissed about what I've written then I may very well have struck a nerve, a nerve I suggest you examine closely.


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