I’d written this blog post already, and then came across this TikTok from tWitch and Allison, which does a much better job at making my point on a visceral level.
If you didn’t click, here’s a paraphrase of what they’re counting down on their fingers. White Privilege is:
Never having been called a racial slur.
Never having been followed in a store unnecessarily.
Never having had people cross the street to avoid walking by you.
Never having had someone clench their purse in an elevator with you.
Never having had someone step off an elevator to avoid riding with you.
Never having been accused of not being able to afford something expensive.
Never having had fear in your heart when having been stopped by the police.
Never having been given a pass on a citation that you deserved.
Never having been stopped or detained by the police for no valid reason.
Never having been denied service solely because of the color of your skin.
Never having to teach your child how not to get killed by the police.
Here’s what I’d add to that list.
Privilege (white and otherwise) is also:
If you, or your kid, breaks something you love, you know you can get a new one.
If all your schools were always well-resourced, were not overcrowded, were filled with qualified teachers.
If you’ve ever had a private tutor of any sort.
Or private instrument lessons. Or private lessons of any kind.
If you expected, from the day you were born, that you would go to college.
If you’ve ever had an unpaid internship.
Or an informational interview with a powerful friend of your parents’ or their friends.
If you’ve never been truly afraid to walk down a dark street at night, or to your parked car in a garage, alone.
If you’ve rarely, if ever, been forced to be conscious on a daily basis of your race or another element of your identity—indeed, if you barely think about your race or other element of your identity if you don’t want to—because it almost never engenders an experience of outsider-ness or threat for you.
If you’ve never had to explain to someone else what it feels like to be a person like you—when “like you” is about a group you’re part of rather than “you” as an individual.
If, most of the time, especially in situations of consequence (classrooms, school and job interviews, sales meetings, industry conferences, fundraising pitches, board rooms), you are in groups made up of almost exclusively of people of the same race, gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity as you.
If most of the people on TV shows, in ads, and in magazines look like you…
…and the same goes for the person who saves the day in nearly every movie.
If you don’t have a parent, uncle or aunt, grandparent or great-grandparent who was systematically persecuted, tortured or killed for some aspect of their identity.
And if you feel like you’ve had the choice of whether or not to pay attention, feel personally affected by, and act in response to the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Michael Brown, Terence Crutcher, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Freddie Gray, Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, Bettie Jones, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Laquan MacDonald, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, and Dominique White.
What I appreciate at the end of the video of tWitch talking to Ellen is his saying that he and his wife, and he and his in-laws, are having much deeper conversations about race than they’ve ever had before.
And, as he rightly says, while it’s not enough, it’s a start.
Until white people fully see the privilege we have, until we can see what Peggy McIntosh called (in 1989!) our “invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks” then we are, honestly, in no position to contemplate the steps we need to take to be part of the solution.