White Privilege

6 03 2012

I don’t want to undermine or distract from the conversation started in this post, but on another note… I only heard or really noticed the phrase “white privilege” for the first time this year.  I always resisted being called white.  During my freshman year of college, I had a conversation with my Residential Advisor Rob on ethnicities, nationalities and so forth.

Rob told me that I was white, to which I responded “Bullshit! I’m Jewish”.  White was reserved for the blonde-haired blue-eyed Christian cheerleader girls who lived in Texas.  My language, my history, my religion, my food, my cultural practices, my community, my friends – were all Jewish.

I am only now starting to understand and appreciate the notion of white privilege.  Encountering that man in the RV, I realized that – if he felt so negatively about gay people, Muslims and Mexicans – his dislike would likely extend to African Americans as well.  Friends of ours in rural Missouri told us that the Ladies of the KKK meet regularly at the local library and that tenters and RVers regularly get harassed because the locals think that they are migrants. Well, damn!

It’s important to be an advocate for openness and against bigotry, but – though I feel a bit bad saying this – I guess I am grateful that my skin is white and that my being Jewish is something that I can choose to wear on the outside, but that is not automatically identifiable. I understand how it might be really hard to have your minority status advertised 24-7 to those who might not treat you as a friend because of the way you look.

I feel a bit guilty that I appreciate what an advantage my ability to blend in can be, but should men feel guilty for making more on average in the workplace than women? Should tall or beautiful people feel guilty for having a similar salary advantage? No. They should be advocates toward equality, but that shouldn’t make them feel guilty for the “advantage” that they happen to be born with.

Thoughts?

posted by ayo

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4 responses

7 03 2012
tamar d

I think it’s important to state who you are and where you originate (in all that entails). If you deny the position you have in the world, it diminishes you and those around you bc you aren’t being truly honest.

Why can’t you be grateful to have a privilege? You didn’t ask for it or choose it. It is a reality that you live with. Is it wrong to be happy for having enough money to put food on the table or a roof oer your head? Wrong to be grateful for happily married parents and supportive friends?

Ayo, you are just and kind and true to life. You are honestly grateful for the blessings in your life and try to share them with as many people as you can. That makes you a gift to the rest of us. 🙂

2 08 2012
ayo

I love you, Tamar. Thank you.

7 03 2012
mikeBOS

It sounds like my situation is somewhat similar as a masculine gay guy. Everyone assumes I’m straight. Informing others of my minority status is almost always a choice I get to make.

On the flip side, because most people just automatically assume I’m straight they will say things to me they would never say if they knew I was gay. I’m privy to the hidden hatred that’s too often there, just below the surface.

4 06 2012
ayo

Yikes. That sounds intense. Do you ever speak up about it?

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