As a white man, I call for the term ‘White Privilege’ to be disintegrated, deleted, and banned from the national conversation about racism we are thankfully trying to have in America. No one should tell a group of people that they have White Privilege, and not because it’s wrong but because it’s rude and confusing.
It’s rude because telling us white people that we are privileged sounds like you’re implying we were born with the silver spoon thingie or have an easy life, and most of us weren’t and don’t. Telling us we have White Privilege sounds like you’re saying we didn’t work hard for what we’ve achieved or deserve what we have, and most of us did and do. And we don’t like it when you say different.
And it’s confusing because White Privilege actually means something else. It means that if your skin is white, life in America is a different experience for you. It means that when you walk down the street, you blend into the background instead of arousing suspicion simply by being there. It means you got to grow up seeing people who look like you be in charge (Principals, Bosses, Presidents, Quarterbacks) and on TV and in the movies, and when you walk down the street, you don’t have to hear car door locks popping or see purses being hugged tighter.
But mostly it means that other folks (okay, cops) will look at you and consider you a bit more ‘innocent until proven guilty’ than they would a black guy. Whether or not you believe it’s true (and we see videos that tell us yes, it can be true) that’s what people mean by White Privilege.
Thus the confusion and why we have to stop saying it.
Americans get behind the concept of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ because it seems fundamental to a democracy, to a free country, and therefore it automatically makes us better, or at least more just, than the countries who don’t believe in it.
Now imagine living here, being a citizen, and not receiving this basic American right to get the benefit of the doubt. What if you truly believe that how you look, your skin color, is keeping you from getting this basic presumption of innocence (and you even have tons of video evidence to document it), wouldn’t you be upset? Wouldn’t you begin to demand the same treatment as everyone else? Wouldn’t you at the very least take a knee?
In the USA, innocent until proven guilty was never supposed to be a White Privilege, it was always supposed to be an American Privilege. We’re ALL supposed to get the assumption of innocence. In fact, it’s even written in the constitution under the 14th Amendment as a guarantee of ‘equal protection under the law’.
So in an age where there are finally black principals, bosses, presidents, and quarterbacks, it’s easy to assume that everything MLK was griping about in the 60’s has been fixed, that the racial wounds in this country have long been healed and the divide between black and white has been completely narrowed. And with plenty of black millionaires walking around, it’s easy to tell the rest of that particular population to ‘get over it’ and ‘stop living in the past’. Otherwise, we would have to face the glaring truth that has become self-evident with the election of DJT, and that is that America has a race problem, and we desperately need to talk about it.
One of the positives to come out of this last election is that we can no longer hide the fact that for many, race is still an issue. It keeps us divided when now, more than ever, the less privileged (the majority of us) need to come together and begin to demand a country where we are all truly equal, in the eyes of the law, and just as importantly, in the eyes of each other.
Protests will continue until White Privilege is finally destroyed and replaced once and for all with American Privilege.
Then maybe we can finally watch some uninterrupted football.
- Mike Lukas