The Problem with White Privilege

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Last night was the Oscars. You already know this. You already know that Leo DiCaprio finally won a statue, and you already know that every nomination had something glaringly in common.

They were all white.

Now, if you are white you probably didn’t even notice. I admit, if it wasn’t such a talking point for the weeks leading up to the ceremony…I probably wouldn’t have noticed (although, my ignorance is more to the fact I don’t care about most Hollywood crap). But once I was made aware of the situation I paid just a little more attention to the reactions. A few celebs chose not to attend. A few people on my Twitter feed debated how they should react. And of course there was a backlash of people (mostly white) who asked, what does it matter?

Or, more to the point, they took the above quote and made references to Chris Rock’s success and wealth and thought it appropriate to let their white privilege show. They thought that because Chris Rock was a success, he does not have a right to call foul on the fact that so many other people, like him, do not even have a chance of reaching even a fraction of his success. Actor or not.

The biggest problem of white privilege is that we don’t even think of it. We do not think of discrimination when we fill out job applications. Apply for college. We do not feel it when we walk into a store or down the street. We do not feel it when we get pulled over for having a brake light out. And that is a privilege…but as this is not something we consider as being earned (like  so many other privileges) we are blind to seeing it as such. People do not change their race throughout their life. If you are white, you have always been white so you do not, cannot understand what it is like not to be white. That is a privilege, at least in this country. To get rid of white privilege, we need to acknowledge the fact that it is a privilege and not a privilege extended to everyone.

 

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