I know that the phrase “white privilege” can be triggering for a lot of white folks.
I’m a privileged white woman, even though I didn’t always recognize that… I didn’t always feel privileged. I grew up sharing a room with my sister in an okay neighborhood, hearing my parents worry about money. I didn’t feel particularly privileged.
I was told for much of my life that white privilege wasn’t a thing; if it was, then why did we live here and worry about money? Why weren’t all white people rich? Why weren’t all white people in better positions?
The thing is, we are.
The thing is, “better than” is relative.
The thing is, I was born a white cis woman who had a roof over my head, new shoes at the start of each school year, food on the table, and although I worried people would judge me for being “less than,” it was never because of the color of my skin.
I didn’t understand that for a long time. And there are so many people who still don’t… who don’t want to understand.
It took unlearning. It took uncomfortable conversations. It took listening. It took understanding that this work is ongoing. It took understanding that I will never understand, but I can find ways to support.
I understand that white privilege is a difficult concept for many white people to wrap their heads around. It is. Something about it makes people feel like it invalidates any suffering or hardships they’ve endured; like it negates how hard they’ve worked… like they’re being blamed for something. But just because someone doesn’t understand it, doesn’t make it less real.
White privilege doesn’t mean you’re not going to struggle. It doesn’t mean that you’re automatically going to be let into the college of your dreams, land the job, get the house… but it means that the tone of your skin isn’t going to be one of the struggles you face. It means that when you’re walking down the street with your hand in your pocket, people won’t cross to avoid you, assume you have a weapon, or clutch their purse a little tighter.
It means a lot of things. And I thought about writing more about what white privilege is and how it may or may not actually be about you as a person and more about what your skin represents. I thought about writing about how we shouldn’t be trying to be “colorblind” but instead trying to see each other and help one another get on equal footing. I thought about writing all the ways in which holding onto the falsehood that white privilege doesn’t exist is a damaging act of willful ignorance.
But it’s not my place. I acknowledge my privilege and I feel like I have a responsibility to tell other white people that they need to acknowledge it. I also acknowledge that I am afforded so many more opportunities to be heard than the voices that need to be amplified right now. So instead of another white woman rambling on about what it means to be actively anti-racist, I want you to learn from those voices because ultimately, they’re the ones getting hurt. They’re the ones who can tell you the best way to support them, and I think the best thing that I can do right now is give those voices the space they need and deserve, especially right now.
Please don’t blow past these. You don’t need to read them all, but choose one or two and read them. Get into them. Do something.
Here are some places to get started:
A Guide to Allyship – Written by Amalie Lamont, a queer Black woman who created this guide after a friend and “ally” failed to take an anti-racist stand when Lamont was berated by racists. This guide addresses the fact that saying your an ally and being an ally are different. It’s short, to the point, and easy to understand.
Expressive Writing Prompts to Use If You’ve Been Accused of #WhiteFragility #SpiritualBypass or #WhitePrivilege – Leesa Renee Hall is an expressive writing coach helping people explore their biases. She breaks down why some things trigger people and offers writing prompts and directions to help white people navigate and understand their own biases. Only once we acknowledge and understand our own biases can we begin to work through them and learn how to be allies.
A Visual Guide to White Privilege – You might have seen this around on Instagram. It’s one worth reading and sharing.
Elle’s Anti-Racist Reading List– I’m really embarrassed and disappointed to say I haven’t read a single one of these. But I will be. I have to.
Black People Need Stronger White Allies — Here’s How You Can Be One – Stephanie Long writes for Refinery29. She wrote this piece outlining some of the best (and worst) ways to be an ally, including the difference between being an ally and performing as an ally.
26 Ways to Be in the Struggle Beyond the Streets – A list of resources and ways to support without attending protests and rallies.
Here are some places to donate:
George Floyd Memorial Fund – Started by Philonise Floyd, George’s brother, to support the Floyd family.
Minnesota Freedom Fund – Community-based nonprofit that pays for bail and immigration bonds for those arrested protesting police brutality.
Black Visions Collective – BLVC is a Minnesota organization dedicated to developing Black leadership, dismantling oppression and violence, and pursuing dignity and equality for all.
Campaign Zero – Uses research-based policy solutions to end police brutality.
NAACP – Works to ensure civil rights and equality of all citizens by building political power to ensure the wellbeing of communities of color.
One more note to white people:
If you’re mad about the riots, you’re mad about the wrong thing. Look at the history of Black people in this country. Look at where they are and how they’re treated today. Look at how peaceful protests have been ridiculed and condemned. You may not condone them, but you blame them?
If you’re mad at all police, you’re mad at the wrong people. Not all police are bad. Many are decent men and women with a difficult job. But too many of them are killing innocent people. If this happened disproportionately to people who look like you, wouldn’t you be scared and mad too?
If you’re mad at the system, you’re heading in the right direction. So do something. Educate yourself. LISTEN. Speak up. Demand justice. That’s all the people want — justice. Civil rights. Equal rights. If the system won’t arrest a murderer, the system is broken. We forget that raised voices and fists are often the start to systemic changes.
We need to learn to listen to what is helpful, not do what we think is helpful. This goes for allyship to all minority communities.
Do the work. Help be the change.
I’m always trying to learn how to be a better ally. If you have other resources or information for me on how to do that or would like to share that information with others, please leave a comment.
Be safe. See each other. Hear each other. Respect each other. Love each other ❤️