“… the choice of whether to live in idealism or reality was mine to make. And that is privilege.”
i’ve had some healthy convos with a few of my white brothers and sisters since last week’s verdict and i haven’t been shy about reminding them that they benefit from white privilege, to no fault or choice of their own. the reactions have ranged from sheer shock to innocent confusion to pure insult, and those responses are all appropriate. after all, how do you know you are benefiting from anything if your set of experiences don’t include both benefit and the absence of it as a point of reference? we don’t get to choose the circumstances under which we are brought into this world, and that includes our race or ethnicity. so it’s not one person’s fault that some of us are born the beneficiaries of certain societal privileges — for example the privilege to be exactly your normal, acceptable self without having to change your normal, acceptable behavior to survive in society — while others of us are not. however we can choose to acknowledge that the disparity exists so that we can work together to systematically level the playing field. the author of this article (see link above) wrote it best when she said, “…I had wanted to make the outside world match my internal idealism — instead of paying attention to the actual world, the world of reality,” which is a consistent message i’ve gotten from a lot of my white brothers and sisters. they want to believe that the world viewed through their lens is the world as it is, because that world is a good one. it’s noble to want what’s right and just for all people. but unfortunately that is not the system as it stands. so i’ve stressed to my white brothers and sisters the importance of them seeing the world as it really is and not as they hope it to be, because then and only then will we get convicted enough to push for a society where their idealism is everyone’s reality. i take responsibility for affirming and reaffirming my white brothers and sisters that we are partners in this fight for justice and not enemies, as often portrayed when discussing race in america. however i don’t promise that the process of achieving change will be comfortable. in fact it should be quite uncomfortable; and if it’s not then we ain’t doing it right. let’s begin to acknowledge the real problems so that we can come up with real solutions. get uncomfortable.