…ey just assume. and my accomplishments get diminished just because of my skin color hmm seems fair. so explain to me what I don’t get. and this whole bs of its not the victims responsibility to educate people on white privilege is ali…
Ok. I’m happy to. You have a fundamental misconception of what the term ‘white privilege’ means in the United States. Hence your angry response.
White privilege doesn’t mean you’ve received “special privileges” in life, nor does it mean/imply/assume that you were born into any other privileges — like socioeconomic class, physical ability, gender/gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, etc.
White privilege doesn’t mean you haven’t grown up dirt poor, been victim of neglect or abuse, suffered at the hands of abusive/alcoholic/drug-addicted parents, or dealt with a lifetime of mental illness.
White privilege doesn’t mean that you didn’t work hard, earn, or bust your ass for everything you have in life. It doesn’t mean that you’ve had everything handed to you on a silver platter.
White privilege doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve every good thing that you have in life. It doesn’t mean that you’ve never struggled or endured hardship.
White privilege doesn’t mean that you have to “pay for the past,” or somehow “make up for what your ancestors may or may not have done to black people brought over from Africa as slaves hundreds of years ago.”
White privilege isn’t an insult. And it doesn’t mean that you’re an uppity, holier-than-thou, stuck up snob who hates people of color. It’s not a slur or a pejorative, and using the term ‘white privilege’ is not derogatory or “racist.” White privilege is simply a fact — a sort of statistic.
White privilege means that, in the U.S., if you’re white — even if you’re not an overt racist, even if you know in your heart of hearts that you never, ever discriminate against people based on the color of their skin — you still benefit (through no choice or fault of your own) from the way that systems and institutions have been set up to function in this country.
White privilege, as famously described by Peggy Macintosh, is “an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in every day, but about which I am meant to remain oblivious.” In other words, if you’re white in America, by virtue of the color of your skin, you were born with a few advantages not afforded people of color in America.
It also means that you’re socially conditioned to be unaware that you have privilege (again, not your fault).
You might be disabled, you might not be privileged in the way of gender, mental health, or social status, you might not come from upper class — or even middle class — roots, but if you’re white, you are statistically more likely to be hired for a majority of jobs in America because of your skin color.
To deny that truth, which is backed up with tons and tons of research and statitstics, is to choose to remain willfully ignorant.
If you’re sincerely interested in learning and understanding more deeply, and hence, being prepared for the rest of your life so that you don’t end up jaded and bitter because of “Hispanic talking people” getting all kinds of life perks that you miss out on — as a white person, and specifically, DMV preferential treatment, as you describe, with them getting “their own special line and practically walk right to the window without hardly waiting even 30 minutes,” I recommend reading these, for starters:
- Explaining White Privilege To A Broke White Person, a short essay by Gina Crosley-Corcoran
- The Kind Of Racism You Don’t Even Know You Have, a long essay by yours truly, with audio version available
- Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race, a book by Debby Irving
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism, a book by Robin DiAngelo
- White Like Me: Reflections on Race From a Privileged White Son, a book by Tim Wise
And lastly, these words, succinctly stated in another post by Judith Bradford:
I’ve been sometimes frustrated, when enumerating all the disadvantages of growing up black in America, by white kids or even white adults interrupting to insist, at some point, that X or Y aspect of racial disadvantage is “not really that bad” or “not my fault” or some other irrelevancy.
That very interruption, the angry insistence on defining what really counts as important or what counts as injustice, neatly models one of the major axes of American 21st century racism: the automatic claim to have the right and power to define race, and racism, and justice, and proper behavior, conjoined persistently with the presumption that black people are wrong about all of the above — without having to know what any black people IN FACT think, white people angrily KNOW they’re all WRONG.
On the basis of little more than their imaginations, fervid paranoia fed by racist demagogues, and eagerness to say bad things about American black people, they ignore what people like Colin Kaepernick are actually doing and why, and instead indulge in predictable ignorant blathering, inventing discreditable fantasies in place of actual reality, and swear they aren’t racist, but those BLACKS are racist!
And that’s where I place the real heart of American white privilege: not having to know the reality of American race relations and how they are lived on the black side. So of course they don’t get that privilege means not being treated as black — they don’t have to know the reality of that…
The automatic assumption of authority, both epistemic and moral, even works to prevent white people from learning anything ABOUT the people they claim to treat “just the same as anybody else”.
If you try to tell them what it’s like to grow up black in Tennessee, or wherever… in other words, tell them what they don’t know… they ARGUE with you about it, despite being neither black, NOR from Tennessee. It’s your life, but you have it all wrong! …
I have actually heard people SAY that they aren’t racist and follow that by explaining that it’s “not their fault” that black people are lazy and immoral and stupid… And now, also, RACIST.
It would be funny, were it not tragic and a crime against humanity; white Americans calling black Americans racist, and imagining that American racism means “blaming the fact of black inferiority on white people”. The fundamental assumption of white superiority never crosses their minds as an excellent example of white privilege in action.