I can’t get this boy out of my head! At a discussion on race with CDI (Center for Diversity and Inclusion) he expressed feeling offended and discriminated against for being told he had this “white privilege” after not growing up particularly rich he feels it’s condescending. And that all races to an extent have some form of privilege. I cried a real tear of frustration as I tried to explain to him how simple it really is.
And ever since this discussion i’m even more aware of the privileges I see everyday that I don’t have. I wish I knew his name and if I did, I wish there was a way to virtually tag him during these situations so he can see for himself it has nothing to do with material wealth.
A friend and I, after not really eating all day (hence our brokeness) decide to walk to Giant to get some fruits. We’re feeling good! She has enough funds to get us bananas and kiwis, sweet potato chips and cranberry juice and bread and oh even strawberries. But then we got a little in over our heads when we went to ring up the pineapples and star fruit. We’re at the self checkout and sheesh it was expensive! So we decide not to get those two. All the while 4 employees (all black) somehow have gravitated to maybe 6 steps behind us just “chatting” knowing damn well they’re really just making sure we don’t steal anything, but they’re also laughing.
What are they laughing at?
“Those fools are so high! *laughs while pointing* Eyes red just laughing all over the place. Eating up all the chips and ice cream… just look at them *laughs*” the worker explains the “joke” to us.
We turn to see a group of atleast 6 white adolescents, Men and Women of our age if not older, and they do seem to fit her description pretty well.
“Must be nice.” I exclaim after trying so hard to bite my tongue. I don’t laugh.
Because all that’s ringing in my head is this white male telling me of how offended he was that ppl tell him he is privileged and yet as we’re struggling to get this stupid self-checkout machine to work, all the while having these employees breathing down our necks, burning holes into our already skimp jackets with their eyes; These kids are free. Just happy and laughing and free. So free that we, including the employees, just watch them make their way to the exit of the store. Not only without paying for the items they stole, I mean, must have “forgotten to pay for” of course; but half of the employees are too busy hovering over us to make sure we don’t steal that nobody even approached them.
They just stand there complacent. Seemingly powerless. And they just laugh.
And all I can think is: “must be nice.”
Must be really nice to basically be a criminal and not feel the stigma of said criminalistic behavior because of your whiteness. Must really be nice to be so high and be able to walk into a store and have whatever you like, not even in secret but just all out in the open. Like damn! That really must be nice.
How do you explain that the privilege is in the skin? And it doesn’t even cost a dime. In fact whether you want it or not, if you are white-you got it. you were born with it.
I asked a different boy to look at his hand and look at mine. Then tell me what’s the difference. He says, “yours is black.” And unsurprisingly, I also think “mine is black” This is the difference.
Inherent in that language we are distinguishing between what is default and what is other. The difference or what’s wrong here is that “mine is not yours” or “mine is not white” now, that’s privilege right there. It’s a privilege to be the default because why would you care to think about any alternatives if you got it all. Does the iPhone think about the android? No. Why because it’s the “default” it’s “better”. If you ask someone why the iPhone is better than the android they have weak/shakey responses. Because they’re both really good phones. but one is better by default. by majority. It’s the same thing. And do you know all the priviledges the iPhone affords users? It is such a priviledge to have an iPhone that even if ur phone is cut off you can still use that iPhone to txt other iPhones. Some apps are even just exclusively for iPhones! Like really. Must be nice.
I’m getting side tracked with that analogy. Which is sloppy but whatever. The point here is that I really pray for the patience to explain what white priviledge is to whites. That’s a priviledge in itself. You’re so priviledged that we are the ones who have to teach you about what you have, what you reap benefits from before you will seek to understand- I digress.
I have the compassion and desire to help my white peers understand this so they can acknowledge and use it for good but I am running out of patience. And I don’t have the luxury of wasting time. And sometimes it feels that way. Because it’s so frustrating. How can you not understand. There are countless examples you can give just about trying to get a cab or enter a store etc. But somehow it’s perceived to be this complex issue now that ppl can’t grasp unless they take some expensive sociology course. Incredibly frustrating. What a burden it must be to have the privilege of being treated as a real like human being. What a weight to carry. All that guilt.
Ugh. Again, I’m getting distracted. And bitter. So I’ll just end this now but seriously! Must be so nice.