This is What White Privilege Looks Like
I’ve never been pulled over simply for being White. I have been pulled over for speeding 4 times, but I only got ticketed once. Two of those times happened out of state, and I had weed in the car in states where it’s illegal. My car wasn’t searched despite the obvious lingering smell. Instead the officers laughed, realizing I was just a young girl traveling and living my life. One officer gave me directions to a local hot spring. I was arrested once for being drunk at school when I was 15, I was extremely noncooperative and aggressive, refused to give my name or contact information, and swore at the cops. I was never even put in handcuffs. They thought it was “cute”.
I can shop freely in any business without the fear of an employee following me around the store as if I might steal something, even though in the past I have stolen things. I can walk down the street freely without anyone looking at me as if I’m a scary criminal, even though I have made plenty of terrible mistakes.
When I got a good grade in school, it was always attributed to my skills and abilities, rather than “luck” or accusations of cheating. And sometimes I did just get lucky, and sometimes I did cheat.
I knew I would get into college because my entire education was set up to help me get ahead. I didn’t have to search for scholarships based on racial inequities. I didn’t have to worry if I could make it against all odds, because the odds were always in my favor. When I did get into college, no one attributed it to my race, but congratulated me in my acheivements.
I grew up in mostly nice neighborhoods because despite their income level, my parents were able to get loans to purchase their own home, while rampant redlining practices prevented others from achieving the same thing. My family was offered a slice of the American Dream even though we were mostly poor and uneducated. I was never pushed into a rundown neighborhood with no access to real resources or opportunities. I was never told my only way out was to become a basketball player.
People don’t touch my hair without asking like I’m some sort of zoo animal. I’ve never been repeatedly called a name so heinous that we refer to it by its first letter only. I’ve never been told to “go back to Italy”, the country my ancestors are from.
My whole life I’ve been able to turn on the TV or open a newspaper and see people who look like me widely represented. I got to play with dolls and toys that looked like me. I’ve been given countless role models that look like me, and I’ve seen people who look like me represented in positions of power, in the media and in Hollywood. This led to me developing self-esteem and a confident identity, the reassurance that it’s okay to be me in my own skin, and that people who look like me can succeed, and do succeed daily.
I can go into a supermarket, and the foods from my culture aren’t relegated to one single aisle called “ethnic foods”. I can say whatever I want without people making it a statement about my race. When I am in a social setting, I don’t have to feel the anxiety of being the ONLY person that looks like me, I don’t have to feel the disconnect or alienation that it may cause.
I don’t have to worry that my little brothers will be systematically jailed or killed. I don’t worry they will turn to gangs because they lack any other viable options. I don’t have nightmares about police killing them.
When I meet someone new, I know that I am given a blank slate of neutrality, that they aren’t making tons of assumptions about me based on my skin. When Black people are murdered, I can turn the TV off, I can stop reading the news, I can altogether ignore it if I choose to because I don’t have to go to sleep at night worried it might be me next. I can say race doesn’t matter anymore and let’s just all get along, and a lot of people will agree with me.
I hope you guys are still reading this and not catching your next Pokemon. Because, YES I worked really, really fucking hard for everything in my life, but YES I was also given way more chances and way more opportunities, even though I did nothing to deserve them except be born White.
I refuse to live in a world where my cousins, my friends, my lovers, my colleagues, my neighbors, and my Heroes are NOT given the things I have been given. Exposing, understanding and undoing White Privilege is essential to Black Lives Mattering. #ExposeYourself
**this post does not discount other types of oppression by gender, sexuality, religion, disability, etc— those discriminations are real too (all oppression matters)–but I believe they are rooted in the system of White Supremacy.