Discussion Series: White Privilege

Hello friends,

Welcome to the first installment of my new discussion series. For more information on how this series started click here.

Today we will discuss: White privilege.

For the original article that I will be responding to, follow this link.


First let me start off by saying that everyone has privilege. No matter who they are, it exists for all of us. There is always someone who is worse off than we are whether we want to believe it or not.

The author of this article, like many people, associates privilege with money. Sure that’s a part of it but not all that it encompasses. Privilege is based on much more than material items.

She’s absolutely right to say that it’s unfair for all POC to blame their shortcomings on white people. I’m not disagreeing with that, but we also have to take into consideration things like housing discrimination, segregation and a bunch of other things that were specifically designed to keep people of color from advancing. Sure, it’s 2017 now, but racism still exists and sometimes people choose to keep these practices going.

I agree that white privilege is not “the bane of non whites’ existence” but that still doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

When we talk about white privilege, we’re not saying that all white people have every thing handed to them, are always born into rich families, never have to work a day in their life, and never face any hardships. Obviously that’s not true. What we are saying, is that the way that you are perceived in the world is different from how non white passing POC are perceived.

When you’re white (at least in America) you are often considered the default or the norm. People don’t look at you and automatically associate you with stereotypes of being poor, uneducated or less than human. You see yourself represented everywhere. Your history is taught as a high school requirement while many others can only learn theirs as a college elective, or a minor if they’re lucky.

Just yesterday I had someone (a stranger) tell me how shocked they were that I was college graduate.

I’ve spent most of my life being told that I “sound white” simply because I speak in full sentences and don’t often use slang.

I will never forget the day during freshman move in (as a Resident Assistant) when despite the fact that I was holding a clipboard and wearing a residence life polo with the university logo on it, a white parent still felt the need to lock their car door as I approached. For the record, I’m only five feet and I was smiling. There was no need to feel “intimidated.” Would that have happened if I were white? Honestly, I will never know for sure, but I highly doubt it.

So yeah, it really does suck when people make assumptions about you based on your shin color. But having someone assume that you’re wealthy has a much different impact from them assuming that you’re uneducated or a threat to their well being. That doesn’t make it acceptable in any way, but the fact that that is the most common stereotype used against you is privilege in itself. So please, if one of your biggest concerns is being stereotyped as rich, check your privilege.


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About Bookmark Chronicles

Hi! I'm Rae. 23. Avid Reader, Book Blogger. Intersectional Feminist. Gryffindor.
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14 Responses to Discussion Series: White Privilege

  1. I have to say this first: I clicked on the article you were responding to, and I couldn’t even read the whole thing.

    I am white, and I know I have white privilege – among other privileges. But I think a lot of white folks get “offended” when they’re informed of their white privilege because, to them, admitting privilege means admitting that you don’t deserve what you have in life. I think white folks in particular are quick to jump to the defense rather than just acknowledging that yes, we are privileged, but no, it doesn’t mean that we haven’t worked hard. You can tell in the beginning of the original article that the author is trying SO HARD to justify their privilege by saying that their dad works hard and that they work to pay for their education. Sometimes white folks are just afraid of admitting that we don’t live in the so-called colorblind society like we were raised to think. But just because it’s scary doesn’t mean we can’t do our best to listen to other perspectives and look critically at ourselves.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you! I can definitely understand that in a normal conversation when someone suddenly says something like “wow must be nice to be so privileged” it can come off as incredibly rude and almost an attack. I get that. But what matters is listening when someone says WHY they believe you are privileged. It’s not her fault she has privilege, it’s nobody’s fault but it doesn’t seem like she’s even willing to understand that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ok I read the headline “I’m white and don’t have privilege” and immediately I didn’t want to read the article. I think the person who wrote this article doesn’t fully grasp what “white privilege means”. I am white and I am from Australia, a country that tries to make out like we are not a racist country despite the fact that we don’t want to take refugees (or anyone from any other country) and our indigenous Australian’s have short life expectancies, poor job prospects and high suicide rates. Australia used to have areas where only white people were allowed (like America). The lady who has written that article talks about how white privilege is a term that was penned to further divide, when white people were the ones who caused the division in the first place!

    As a white person, I will never ever deny that white privilege exists. The author of that article talks about it like it is about money…wouldn’t it be easy if that was the truth. I can bet that even wealthy people of colour STILL experience white privilege, because it comes down to core beliefs. Core beliefs of white people, that go back to when Africans were taken as slaves and treated like animals. Back from when white people invaded Australia and killed the nations first people then threw the remaining people into the outback, stole their babies and treated them as slaves. In 2017 I’d say things are a little bit better than what they were, but there is still a long, long way to go.

    By the way sorry for the rant. I’ve been in a very ranty mood lately lol.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! I don’t mind the rant at all and I completely agree with you. The way that Indigenous Australians were treated is very much like the way Native Americans are treated and even now they are ignored. Yes, it’s 2017 and things are better but even the concept of race itself was created by white people to make themselves superior and clearly it’s worked.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. michelle says:

    Hi Rae–another useful post. I clicked through to the original article that you were responding to and felt the need to comment there, then thought I should maybe post that same comment here. What I wrote to the other writer:
    “I have the exact same opportunities available to me as any non-white person does.” I read that line and had to stop you there. Obviously you are a thinking person who has felt insulted and hurt by the term “white privilege”, but I can tell you now, as someone who looks white, but is not considered white the second people find out “what” I am (Arab-American), and as a mom with very brown-looking kids, I have walked both sides and I can attest, white “privilege” is a real thing, whether you recognize it or not. Whites are the “generic” in our country. Everything else is a different flavor–to be considered exotic, or threatening, or whatever. Everything but white needs to be specially selected. Here’s what I mean: I was trying to make a Power Point for a school of diverse children. I wanted pictures of middle class children of color (kids like mine) playing outside and riding bikes. NONE came up when I searched “children playing outside” or “Children riding bikes”. I added “multicultural” to try to get brown faces–and what I got was clearly impoverised inner-city and developing-nation children. So my children grow up without seeing themselves represented in a positive light on a daily basis. Until you’ve lived THAT, you can’t know what a privilege it is just to feel normal, typical, accepted, and represented. And the low self esteem people of color or hated groups (read Arab/Muslim) have to deal with, is something most white people are spared. They might get low self esteem for other reasons, but not just because of who they are and how the world reacts to their very being.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for sharing this, Michelle. That response is perfect. Representation is a huge thing that a lot of people don’t realize POC lack. Of course, when we actually are given it, it’s accused of being “anti-white”

      Liked by 2 people

  4. ashley says:

    The article and your discussion were very eye opening. I’m not denying that white privilege doesn’t exist, but I also think that white privilege varies for each person.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ariel Lynn says:

    My sense of the article is the author feels the term “white privilege” disregards all the hard work white people put in to accomplish what they do, rather than that it implies “wealth.”

    Even if that were true (which it isn’t, in my opinion), to assume a white person didn’t have to work as hard to attain their position in life isn’t as detrimental, in my opinion, as assuming a PoC got “lucky” or “cheated” or “only got where they are because of affirmative action/deferential treatment/etc.”

    The author said themselves: ““White Privilege” is defined as societal privileges that white people have that non-whites do not have in social, economical, or political areas. ” They didn’t address that at all. All they talked about was the hard work their family did, with the strong implication that, if they can do it, so can anyone. They didn’t address what “white privilege” means, by their own definition, nor its insidious, nor its hidden, nature.

    It’s easy for a white person to say, “I don’t have ‘white privilege'” because we don’t see it. We don’t experience the world as PoC do – with countless micro & massive hurdles on their way to their goals. If the author doesn’t see the irony of that, especially with the image they picked, they may be a lost cause.

    I think privilege wants to hide; to make it easier for deniers to claim it doesn’t exist & that they got where they are by their “bootstraps.” As such, at least to “get the ball rolling,” it requires an outside observation to shine a light on it.

    Anecdote: I’ll admit – I was a bad kid. I got myself arrested when I was 15 for possession of marijuana (literally got myself arrested; cops stopped a car I was in, I told them I had pot, boom – handcuffs). My Dad, who’s not the most “woke” person by a long shot, pointed out to me this fact: he, I, the judge, my lawyer, & the prosecutor were the only white people in the juvenile courthouse. Looking back, it makes me tear up. While I was sent to a drug diversion program, G-d knows where those other kids went due to an invisible bias.

    We have to consider others’ perspectives when we speak/act/write after that, & we’ll slip, slide, & fall on our a##es on our own shadow-like (practically invisible, easy to ignore, but always there) privilege. It sucks, but we have to bite back our defensiveness, apologize, & try to learn from the mistake.

    Anecdote: I recently posted to Facebook, “I drive like there’s a cop behind me at all times.” My dear friend responded that she couldn’t do that because, as a PoC, just the idea of it would give her overwhelming anxiety. I hadn’t considered how my post would sound to people who don’t have the luxury of having a cop car behind them without (very real) fear they’d be pulled over. Of course I apologized & removed the post, but I felt awful.

    I think a lot of white people stop & wallow in that discomfort. They feel blamed because they’re inadvertently benefiting from an unequal system. This author & other “privilege deniers” need to move past that uncomfortable moment. They need to learn from it.

    They need to realize that, even in that single (unless they repeat it, hoping for a different outcome) moment, they’re still privileged. They don’t have the constant fears of having their kids arrested (or worse), nor that a police officer behind them means they’re unsafe.

    (Sorry, as always, for the novel!! Great topic, great post, great idea to hold these discussions! ❤ )

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: Discussion Series: Conservative Politics | bookmarkchronicles

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