Let me start this post off by saying “White and privileged” is a redundant phrase. Every White person enjoys privileges wherever they live, even if there are other people placed above them for other reasons, such as education or finances. The same goes for people who can pass for White.
White privilege is especially prevalent in America, because it is the only First World country that didn’t offshore its hand in slavery to an exotic location. Subsequently, there are people living in America who still remember grand-pappy’s stories of buying and selling human beings at the slave market.
In fact, there are still Americans pledging a whole life of allegiance to a cause that lasted for five years and represents the largest threat of domestic terrorism and treason that America has ever lived through. I mean, of course, the Confederacy.
While there is a lot of talk about White privilege, many people don’t really understand it. Blacks and other minorities see it every day from the outskirts and many Whites believe it doesn’t exist. As one White person commented on my blog recently:
We have all been wronged in the past generations of our people, not just Black people. The Irish for example and the Jews and indigenous people have an axe to grind. I think it’s far better to address racial inequality in real terms … I remember a quote from Morgan Freeman that the way to stop racism is to stop talking about it. I’m not sure that is the answer but there is something in it.
If you want to know my thoughts on people who think the answer to racism is ignoring it, you can read my post:
For the “woke” Whites who do understand the concept of privilege and the power it gives, many opened up and shared their stories with me after I made the request below:
WHITE TWITTER FOLLOWERS ASSEMBLE: Usually I save my crowdsourced posts for my articles on Jamaican culture, but I think I'll try something different. I want to know:
What is it really like to be a privileged White person?
Tell me anything about this experience that you want to.
— Alexis Chateau 🇯🇲 | FJ Cruiser Bae 🥰🚙 (@alexischateau_) June 6, 2020
This is what they had to say.
I Don’t Fear the Police
My White privilege means;
– I don’t have fear when police pull me over
– I don’t have to fear being pulled out of my car & savaged
– I won’t be targeted for arrest after I protest
– I can run through my neighborhood & not be questioned
– I can walk anywhere without fear
— Judy Lindsay, Radio and Film Producer
I Can Use My Privilege as a Shield
A young Black man had been shot & was chased toward my house. Cops demanded he lie down, but he cried he could not bend over. Every cop drew down on him, shouting for him to lie down, as blood bloomed through his clothes. I brought a chair, & begged they let him sit. They did.
His sister and his gf were already wailing for help, begging to put pressure on the wounds or to drive him to the ER. Cops warned an ambulance would show up only *after* he could lie down. White privilege made all the difference. I was sad but glad cops finally listened. He’s ok.
Tears Can Cure Speeding Tickets
Driving to my estranged grandfather’s wake, in a small town out in the country in the South. It all hit me & I was bawling. Didn’t notice I was doing 70+ in a 45, state trooper pulls me over. “You crying because I pulled u over?” “Noooo” I gush. Off w/ a warning.
— Leigh M SLP, Speech Therapist
I Don’t Get Deported
Working undocumented in Austria, 1994. Health police caught me running a pub my 1st shift alone. Intimidated me but just fined the boss, laughing about the cute “college girl” hanging in a bad part of Vienna. No such grace for undocumented people of color there…
— Leigh M SLP, Speech Therapist
I Get Off Easy
A random trivial thing is how many apartment and hotel pools I snuck into in my twenties. The worst we ever got was asked to leave. Usually, no one took any notice. I got arrested in high school because my friend and [I] skipped school in someone else’s house (it’s a long story) and the cop joked with us on the way to the station. The case was dismissed and expunged and my curfew was midnight for a little while.
Harder on Minorities; Easier on Me
I can’t think of any specific incidents, but as you know I grew up with Blacks and Asians as my neighbours. We did all the stuff together groups of kids did – football, cricket etc. Whenever one of the older people on the street had a complaint about us they were always far harsher on the Black and Asian kids.
Almost seeing them as more responsible for the noise / ball going in their garden / damage to their fence etc. They had no evidence it was us, let alone any one of us.
— Matt Mason, Author of Salmonweird
No One Automatically Distrusts Me in Stores
This one is much longer, so I’ll leave the link here to the full story. While his wife is not Black, the story he shares of her experience is one I’ve heard often related by Blacks in America.
The bullshit in the linked thread would never have happened to me. That's white privilege.https://t.co/RP66fcEZ60
— Arno Nym (@GratuitousGuy) June 6, 2020
I’m Not Considered a Threat
This is another long one where the full thread is worth reading. I love when Whites not only acknowledge privilege but weaponized that power for good.
My Brother’s Violence Is Excused
My brother is mentally ill. He’s literally tried to kill our dad. Every time the cops are called they manage to take him peacefully, and he’s taken to the hospital instead of jail. They gave him the choice.
Partly, he’s a White male. Partly, Montana has one of the best mental health hospitals there is…. there’s a city dedicated to it. It’s a little weird. He was sent there at least once too.
Other people who have mental health issues have not ended up so well, even in Montana. Especially Native Americans.
Cops Let Us Off With Warnings
My mom got pulled over driving me to a Girl Scout volunteer event- speeding a little because we were late. She explained & got a warning. Cop followed us there- instead of being scared we just laughed at how bored he probably was.
Then as an adult, I got pulled over for speeding going to a Phish concert. His first question was whether I was going there to sell drugs. He made my friend and I get out of the car to be questioned separately and at one point I made him extra suspicious.
When he said “so if I had my dog sniff your car he wouldn’t find anything?” and I said that was true (not a lie), but I love dogs so I turned my head a bit to look toward his car, it probably looked to him like I was lying. And I still only got a warning.
I Don’t Have to Fight to Vote
White privilege is not something I asked for. But it is my responsibility to use my privilege to elevate the voices of the unprivileged. As a White woman I got the right to vote earlier than other women. Indigenous women are still fighting for it. Voter suppression sucks.
— Ruth Scribbles, Blogger
Business Owners Give Me a Pass
This lady explains how even while wearing the same general clothing as a Black patron at a business, she was not denied service and he was:
Cops Search for Me Even When I’m Not Missing
When Black women go missing in America, we receive less media coverage and law enforcement often does not use its full resources to find us. The situation changes drastically when a White woman goes missing. If you’d like to know more about this, William & Mary Law School published a study on this just last year.
That makes the story shared by Heather even more jarring:
My White privilege: a few years ago, I set up a date through a dating site. I was in upstate NY along the river. The night of the date, a friend came over to babysit. I went to my date, it was -amazing- and I was late getting home. 2 hours later, and it’s now 1 in the morning and I’m getting something from my car when a local police cruiser pulls in.
My friend had -WHY- called the local PD when I was late, and there had been TWO COUNTIES on alert for a -not missing- White girl. And then they sent a cop to check on me. ?! ?! ?!
It’s having police giving me a sum total of 1 ticket for all the times I’ve been pulled over driving. I’ve had some really shitty experiences with police, but they were specific and nowhere near representative of my experience as a whole.
— Heather Newman, Writer
I Never Face Accusations of Selling Out
Joined the Police at 25, on my first team was a Black British guy and we became friends. At the end of two years he transferred to the Met. Police. So White privilege to me..not having White people say to me I’d sold out for having joined the police. Now most important … Never ever thinking that I will be subjected to racism.
— @_EccentricMan, Gamer
I Feel Safe Even When Othered
I have traveled to Asian countries and experienced a small amount of otherness because of how I look, but I never once felt unsafe or disrespected. I have also never had to shy away from standing out or making a scene with my aesthetic choices or personality.
— Melanie Noell Bernard, Author
Babied Even While Abroad
I was a White kid that spent roughly half her childhood in Papua New Guinea (intermittently, not consecutively). The Native kids I [was] friends with were always treating me like glass, nobody wanted to get in trouble with parents for letting the White girl get hurt.
Recession? What Recession?
My White privilege has meant that I haven’t been impacted financially by the events of this year.
— Mary L. Gordon, Author
I Don’t Fear for Myself, But for My Partner
I grew up in the South with a family that was casually racist that liked to tout the “I’ve got a Black friend that’s a good one” when you called them on using racial slurs. There wasn’t much diversity where I grew up. My town was mostly White. So, I didn’t really get to see privilege in action until I moved to the West Coast.
As my group of friends became more and more diverse outside of my home town, it opened my eyes to a lot of race issues. It was always easy for me to get a job when I wanted one. To move up. To train. To not be questioned on every suggestion I made.
While I’ve never trusted the police, I’ve never been scared of them. Not until I started dating a man that isn’t White. My partner is a different race and because of that I’ve seen how he’s treated by the police. I’m terrified if he goes out with a friend that isn’t White. What if the two of them get pulled over together?
He had to give me numbers for his friends, boss, family in case he’s ever arrested for something he didn’t do. In case he’s ever held.
Hopefully, their stories are eye-opening. By getting a greater insight into each other’s experiences, I think we can begin to take social steps to make amends. At the end of the day, politics and the way specific demographics are policed are all byproducts of social problems.
I do not, for a second, believe that the answer is to claim to be colour blind and ignore the problem. If abolitionists had simply not spoken about racism and waited patiently for it to go away, I would probably still be in shackles today. With all due respect, anyone who believes otherwise needs to get their heads checked.
What are your stories of White privilege? Whether you experienced it, witnessed it, or was harmed by it, share them with me in the comments below!