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.
posted by ayo