The first time someone accused me of being a “privileged white woman,” I strongly resisted. “No way!” I staunchly declared. “I’ve had my own tough times in life.” Attending monthly racial discrimination meetings at the YWCA ultimately altered my understanding as well as my view of myself. In truth, I have gotten away with behavior that would have probably landed me in jail if my skin were darker.
For example, when a local policeman stopped me for speeding in my neighborhood, I lamented that he could not use his time more effectively by focusing on real challenges. He could have busted me for being such a smart aleck. On another occasion, I opened a small package of crackers in the grocery store, ate the crackers, and saved the wrapping so I would remember to pay when I checked out. No one noticed me. Not everyone would go unquestioned for eating before paying. Yes, I am privileged. I have received much and I owe much to others. My white skin has opened doors for me that I may not have deserved.
I have realized that white privilege, with its quiet advantages, plays into racial discrimination. It separates. It diminishes people of color and encourages those of us who have light skin to turn a blind eye to privileges most of us do not want to acknowledge. Without a clear understanding, hate and prejudice occur.
Whether innocent or not, wrong thoughts and wrong actions always boil down to being wrong at the core. Hate remains hate and rejection creates pain. Discriminating against others cannot be dressed up and made acceptable.
I believe that at this time in history, the scales must slant toward an advantage for those lacking privileges. In the words of Martin Luther King, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” In that perfect world, the scales will even out with equal justice for everyone. In the meantime, I know I still have work to do.
Martin Luther King Jr. “Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes.” Brainy Quote.