The conversation of white privilege is one that is often shied away from. The phrase comes up and people are quick to be defensive, wanting to argue that they are not that type of white person or making the claim that white privilege does not exist.
The truth is, white privilege is a real problem that needs to be acknowledged by those who benefit from it.
Recognizing this privilege and having open discussions about it is one step to help rectify it.
Being white in America sets us up for privilege. No, this does not mean that simply because one is white they have a perfect American experience, it does not mean that you come from wealth and can afford to be lazy in every avenue of life – it simply means that as white people we are automatically given a leg-up in society from day one.
Dahleen Glanton states in an article for the Chicago Tribune that, “White privilege means that you were born with an inherent advantage over every other race of people. The whiteness of your skin alone allows you to leave the starting gate quicker and to run the race with fewer obstacles.”
Hiring discrimination is one area where white privilege runs rampant. Harvard Business Review reports that “since 1990 white applicants received, on average, 36 percent more callbacks than black applicants.”
Acknowledging the advantages bestowed upon us simply for the color of our skin is uncomfortable and admitting that it exists, for some, is challenging. However, not recognizing this inequality and not talking about it is simply buying into white privilege.
It starts in schools. According to Glanton’s article, “Research shows that black boys are much more likely to be labeled as troublemakers than white boys […] and are nearly four times more likely to be suspended from school than white children.”
In an interview about gender and racial inequality, actress Ellen Pompeo stated that, “As Caucasian people, it’s our job. It’s our task, it’s our responsibility to make sure that we speak up in every single room that we walk into. That this is not OK, and that we can all to better. It’s our job because we created the problem.”
Systematically, improvements need to be made. Stereotypes and biases need to be examined. With the privilege of being white, we have the chance to dismantle these biases and correct these stereotypes.
White people need to be more understanding of the struggles of people of color and recognize the discrimination that they face and work to make things better–not by perpetuating the idea of a white savior, but by opening their eyes to the multitude of inequalities minority groups face. White people need to help empower these already marginalized individuals and assist them in any way that they can.
Using one’s white privilege as a tool to help provide marginalized groups with the environment to speak out about the issues facing their communities. By actually listening to these issues and taking the proper steps given to white people by these groups to help improve whatever adversity, can help demonstrate compassion and an understanding that their problems are largely problems created by us and that we have to do whatever it is they ask in order to create change.