I had a little trepidation when I typed that sentence. You might say it’s a loaded sentence.
Growing up white I have enjoyed many privileges, some of which I will never be able to fully appreciate. It is primarily because of my country of origin and my skin color that I have a college degree, and I sit at a computer, in a house with running water, electricity and internet connection, in a city with police and fire protection, free of religious persecution, with my bills paid, and my family intact, writing about being white. Yet I find myself unable and even unwilling to accept the common usage of the term white privilege, not because I have not been blessed beyond belief, and certainly beyond the scope of most if not all of my ‘other-skinned’ brothers and sisters, but because of what it has come to mean.
You may, at this point find yourself taking issue with this right off the bat, and I hope you do, because that means that we are continuing a dialogue that is vital now. What I hope is that you will comment on where you feel I have gotten it wrong, and why.
I feel a stranglehold on my neck perpetrated by the anger of the opposing view (those who champion for the cause of first damning and then eradicating anything resembling white people having places of prominence in society) which forces me to make a choice between:
A) Conceding that since I am white, I must give up power and influence (whether good or bad but assumed to be bad) on the basis of the color of skin I was given at birth, and on the principle that wrongs have been done and must be set right. This makes the stranglehold all the tighter on my neck.
B) Fighting back with dialogue (what choice I am now making) to explain why I feel oppressed by the stranglehold. I find that any attempt to put forth any argument against the opposing view is labelled as racist and supremacist. This causes just as much pressure on my neck.
Both options will eventually kill me. I speak metaphorically of course, but there are many kinds of death. I find it ironic that we have spent decades learning not to make broad, negative generalizations about people because of their inherent physical traits, or the country or family they were born into. That wrongs have been done, there is no argument. That we should proceed in this manner is unsustainable.
I have no intent to bring violence on those who think otherwise, and am making no attempt to denigrate any other group of people. I’m simply trying to explain what it looks like from where I sit.
What say you?