The term “White Privilege” makes people tense up and get ready to argue about how they don’t have privilege because they have this problem and that thing. They’ve faced “racism” from black people; they’ve been poor and rejected from jobs…yadda yadda…
This shows a misunderstanding of what Privilege is, in this context. When you take emotion out of the conversation and you step back, any logical person should know that if you are white, then you do have privileges over those who aren’t. Simple. Why? Because there are many, MANY things you don’t have to worry about or consider that POC do.
But there are also many other forms of privilege (like wealth, which is usually what people think of when you mention this weighty word).
Here are some of my privileges that make my life easier than some others, to help you see what yours may be.
Mixed/ Light-skin privilege
Dark-skinned people face so much more hate than light-skin people. This is close to White Privilege because it’s kind of like, the closer you are to white (fair skinned), the more “acceptable” you are in Western society.
I have darker skin than my mixed cousins, but I am of course vastly lighter than my mother, my partner, my grandparents and uncles and aunts and in-laws. I have easier experiences than they do.
Colorism is a thing! Look it up. There is hate and friction between POC over the lightness and darkness of their skin. This is internalised racism, too, in a way.
Heterosexual Cisgender Privilege
I am “straight” and I’m a cisgender (born with that sex) woman. This means things are pretty basic for me in life, in terms of gender identity and sexual identity.
Now, I believe that gender and sexuality are complicated, but the simplest way to put it is to think of a spectrum. You’re not all one thing or another. Especially with sexuality, from my view, it’s easy to see it as a spectrum. Put straight on one end and gay on the other and most people float around that bar. I won’t label myself as bi-sexual, but I do find woman attractive. I feel like maybe I’d be 70-75% straight, 25-30% gay, but even that is too simple!
When trying to follow our old societal norms and lived conditioning, it becomes hard to understand this. You keep trying to label, categorise, explain, and put facts and figures and percentages on it.
But people aren’t that simple; we can’t be labeled and reduced down to numbers in this way!
We can hold ourselves back and drive ourselves crazy by trying to box ourselves and others in. Just love who you love, explore your desires, dress and self-express and put yourself out there in a way that feels authentically you! You are safe here with me, however you identity.
But as I am labelled in this world, I have the privilege not to worry about that, sadly.
British/ English Privilege
Being born in the UK, I have SO MANY privileges that others don’t:
- Access to great education
- Speaking the English language which is a dominant language
- I have no accent or struggle to language switch
- Access to resources
- Wealth of the country
- Easy travel
- Held in high regard by other countries
This should be obvious. You’ve never met me, perhaps, but I can walk and talk without any struggle. My physical body and abilities are pretty perfect. Pains, yes; strain and struggle, yes. But I am able-bodied and “simply” going for a walk isn’t a task for me.
I don’t have to think about whether a shop is suitable for my wheelchair or crutches. I don’t need to look for ramps. I don’t need to worry about how long it takes me to cross the road. I don’t wake up in chronic pain. I don’t get stared at for being disfigured, scarred, or having skin conditions.
Everyday life is simple for me, that makes it a privilege.
Privileges I don’t have at a glance
- Cisgender male privilege
- White privilege
- Mental wellness privilege
- Wealth privilege
Look within and be honest, how close are you to the Dominant Culture? (Cisgender male, straight, white, middle-class, able-bodied, mentally well, brown hair, Christian or non-religious). The closer you are, the more privileges you have. Simple.
And admitting that doesn’t make you evil! Please, that’s not what it’s about.
It’s about empathy and understanding struggles that others have in their everyday life that you don’t.