The idea of white privilege is a very controversial topic for many, primarily because many white individuals do not acknowledge their race and its meaning, are not aware of the advantages and benefits they receive because of their race, and do not see how their whiteness affects their perception of society. However, white privilege and society have a large intersection because, “when it comes to privilege, it doesn’t matter who we really are. What matters is who other people think we are.” The existing societal norms decide who we are as people and where we are categorized. By being white, there is a power to determine what we as a race want to do and what is acceptable to do; anything beyond those standards is viewed as inferior. As much of this concept is unnoticed, defensive instincts arise whenever race is the topic for conversation, leaving individuals more concerned about being called racist than actually being concerned with racism.
I have recently come across the song “White Privilege II” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. It has been very relatable for me because I know I am white and I know I systematically benefit from being white, but I struggle with finding a position where I can appropriately advocate for Black individuals. This song is for those individuals who want to advocate for change and equality but find themselves in a conflicting position because of the color of their white privilege In this song, Macklemore is depicting race relations in the United States and the conflicting emotions he experiences when trying to understand the lives of Blacks compared to the lives of whites. Although he understand the disadvantage of Blacks and wants to be a person advocate, he knows it is not that easy because he has different lived experiences. Nonetheless, he wants to use his fame and power as a means to educate and bring awareness about the ongoing issues our society faces everyday. Although this song is lengthy and not everyone may listen, there are some lyrics that are worth paying attention to:
I want to take a stance ’cause we are not free, And then I thought about it, we are not “we”
They’re chanting out, “black lives matter, ” but I don’t say it back, Is it okay for me to say? I don’t know, so I watch and stand, In front of a line of police that look the same as me
What if I actually read an article, actually had a dialogue, Actually looked at myself, actually got involved?, If I’m aware of my privilege and do nothing at all, I don’t know
White supremacy protects the privilege I hold, White supremacy is the soil, the foundation, the cement and the flag that flies outside of my home, White supremacy is our country’s lineage, designed for us to be indifferent
Is it my place to give my two cents?, Or should I stand on the side and shut my mouth?, “No justice, no peace, ” okay, I’m saying that, They’re chanting out, “black lives matter, ” but I don’t say it back, Is it okay for me to say? I don’t know, so I watch and stand, In front of a line of police that look the same as me
How can we ever become comfortable talking about race if we are too worried about being seen as racist? Will it always be this challenging for whites to think about and do something about their privilege? How can whites grow to feel comfortable advocating for Blacks?