This week’s class discussions were based mainly on the concept of white privilege. Although I understood the idea of white privilege before, the ways that we talked about it in class really opened my eyes to a lot of things I’ve never noticed. Every day, I benefit from white privilege in a number of ways. For example, I walk into each of my classes and am surrounded by people who not only look like me, but have had similar life experiences because of their race. I am able to access a college education along with additional resources to help me get an advantage in law school admissions. I’ve never had to consciously think about the possibility that my actions could be attributed to my race. These are just a few of the ways that I experience white privilege every day.
Every white American benefits from white privilege. So why don’t we all recognize it?
Some individuals may not recognize their white privilege because of the guilt associated with it – many people feel that they never asked for systemic advantages and even wish to give their privilege back. This is simply impossible. It is necessary to recognize that privilege is not something that is taken willingly, nor is it optional. What really ends up mattering, as we discussed in class, is how you spend your privilege. As a white American, I have the option of forgetting my privilege. Perhaps this is the greatest privilege of all – the ability to ignore the fact that my race has placed me at an advantage in just about every area of my life. The other option is to recognize privilege and to use the knowledge of privilege as a tool in becoming an ally against the system of privilege, oppression, and racism. I have chosen the second option, and am challenging myself to encourage others to do the same. What are the most efficient ways for us to get white Americans to recognize their privilege? How can we convince others to become allies against racism?