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Broaching the topic of “White Privilege” is not synonymous with “All white people are evil and, I hate them all.” Chill out.

Want to watch a white person rush away from a dinner party? Just bust out phrases like “institutionalized racism,” “white supremacy,” and the oldie but goodie “residual effects of slavery that are still with us today,” and watch a room of white people clear itself out, or, at least, have them stammer out the names of all the black people they are friends with, and then offer another unsolicited list off all the good they’ve done for people of color.

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Just because I talk about white privilege doesn’t mean I hate all white people. Some of my best friends are white. Like this guy!

When I talk about systemic racism and historical racial inequalities as it ties into white privilege and modern-day racism, I think I must sound like this to white people: “Hey Whitey! I am going to kill you.” I know this is a lot to ask of white people, but could you please STOP FLIPPING OUT when the topic of white privilege comes up? I’m talking about being defensive, blabbing about how there is no such thing as race (just one human race, which is actually made up of different races), and how you are so gifted as a white person that you “don’t see race.” Ooh, that last one, ouch.

That’s why we need to have this conversation — because the inability to “see” racism and privilege is exactly what white privilege is. Talking about race is not a trap. It’s not a game of “Gotcha with your Klan Hood Down.” Talking about white privilege is not about asking white people to leave their race. Nor is it about declaring genocide on the white race. (Besides, looks like we’re already going to outnumber you by 2050, so you might as well sit back, relax and enjoy being Wong-splained.)

Talking about white privilege is not even about trying to make you feel like shit for being white. Surprising, I know. But the conversation on white privilege concerns you and yet is not about YOU. And when you make it about how you feel personally attacked, we really don’t progress further into talking about how we’re going to fix racism. Really.

If you are a white person who gets nervous when white privilege gets brought up, imagine having to navigating racism in every day life as a person of color who must live with it. Imagine systemically being locked out of better education or healthcare, job opportunities or the mainstream American narrative.

There are moments as an Asian American when I’ve been regarded as an “honorary white.” (There are also many other moments when I am reminded that I will always be a perpetual foreigner despite the fact that my family has been in the United States for three generations.) But rather than take whatever privilege I can and run with it, I’m interested in talking with people who benefit from white privilege -– how and if they can recognize it and use their positions of privilege to dismantle the systems that oppress other people.

Believe it or not, I’d love for the world to be more equitable for EVERYONE. And when I ask you to recognize your white privilege, it’s not because I’m trying to place blame. It’s about asking white people to consider the moments where they are able to “pass” in certain situations. Where they are afforded privileges that they never earned. It’s about finding ways to cede privilege, space, and comfort to allow others to live in a more equitable world.

So white people, the conversation about race can’t happen without you. We can’t get things better if we aren’t all talking. If racism were an easy problem to fix, we would have fixed it already. Ending racism starts with recognizing privilege, systemic control over society at large, and when you are dismissing issues of racism then you have the privilege of being oblivious to.

Don’t get me wrong there are people of color who proclaim to drink the tears of white people. There are anti-racism activists who will never organize with the most “down” of white people. I don’t want to drink your white tears, but I’d be lying if I said that I don’t enjoy watching you squirm a little.

Come on, you got to give me that.

XOJane

This post originally appeared on XOJane. Republished with permission.Click here for more
Kristina Wong on XOJane!

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  • LN

    Just looking at the title of this article made me tired. I spent my 4 years in college on the school’s diversity committee. Which, at my small 90% white Christian college, meant begging white people to discuss/care about/acknowledge white privilege. We put on conferences, we had panel discussions, we brought in speakers. All I accomplished was wasting my college years on other people.

    I know that some people are called to this whole “intersectionality” thing. Trying to find white allies to begin meaningful discussions in the white community.

    Not I, said the black girl.

    I am DONE trying to convince white people of ANYTHING. They can believe what they want to believe. My attentions have turned to MY PEOPLE. There is so much that needs to be done in the black community, and that is where my passion lies. That is where I feel I have a voice. That is where I see the results of my activism.

    This might sound harsh, but it’s true; Ignorant white people DON’T DESERVE my intellect and my effort. I don’t suffer fools… well, not anymore.

    • grebrook

      I’m sorry that the cute white guy in your gender studies class turned you down when you asked him out. I’m truly sorry.

    • LN

      Um, I dated white guys throughout college. So… yeh. o_0

      In selecting me as a romantic partner (and not being ashamed to introduce me to family and friends) the white men I dated communicated to me that they were comfortable with their children (should the relationship head in that direction) sharing my racial heritage. This is not to say they were free of racism, but they were a lot farther along in their acceptance of me, as a black woman, than the ignorant white students that I spent tireless and wasted hours trying to “convince” of my humanity.

      So, in a phrase, please shut up.

    • Fionnúir Ní Earchaí

      As a white girl, I completely agree with you. People who either do not care because it doesn’t affect them or are dedicated to argue and misunderstand you do not deserve your time. There is a saying that charity begins at home and helping neighbors and the community is more beneficial than trying to change someone’s perspective. I hope through your activism great things happen :)

  • Rosie Perez

    I skimmed through the article. I just don’t see the point of discussing white privilege. It’s not to their benefit to even try to understand it, let alone dismantle it. As Black people, we should focus on unifying our communities. After so many years fighting for better race relations, perhaps we should try a different strategy.

  • Soraya

    Some of the comments here prove just how futile trying to have this conversation with whites can be.