The first step in understanding white privilege is learning what is implied when being referred to as a white person. In the article, Robin DiAngelo describes being a white person as“ people who either come from or appear to come from Europe, but it’s necessarily a construct of oppression.” From reading the article I have concluded that White privilege is being allowed to be ignorant and think something is not a problem, such as racism because it does not happen to them. I personally believe that if you have never had to be worried about being discriminated in any way because of your race then that is white privilege.
“White privilege” and “white supremacy” seem scary to most people, but why is that? When responding to this article I asked my little brother who is 15 what he thought about white privilege he responded with “that means that white people have it easy right? I believe that is fake.” I then began to explain to him that he would not be discriminated based on his skin color while others would which is an example of his own white privilege. He responded that people who do that are just being “racist”. In his point of view there are only a few “bad apples” out there that support and carry out racism which carries over negatively to the rest of us. This all got me thinking about white privilege. My brother got quite defensive about the topic as though he did not want to admit or allow the idea of his own race giving him supremacy in the world, which is white fragility.
White fragility is the inability to cope with conversations about race that don’t protect white people’s innocence involving the situation. This relates to the example given in the article about the Ottawa mayor, Jim Watson, getting defensive and calling those who were revealing his white privilege as being “vulgar and rude”. This shows how white people can be uncomfortable with their own white privilege and accepting that they are privileged. Whiteness often equates to innocence. However thinking or acting in ways that support the system of racism contradicts this ideal of innocence associated with whiteness. If white people are not making effort to reveal their own white privilege and make efforts to create better equality then they support the system of racism. By making all aware of their own privilege we can take the correct steps in acknowledging racial discrimination.
Personally, I have a lot of conflicting feelings about white privilege. As a person of European ancestry, I am considered to be a white person. When talking about my personal privilege I feel torn. A part of me recognizes that I have it easier than some because of my skin color. However, I have not taken the time to recognize certain situations where my white privilege has benefited myself. As a white person, I have never felt as though I would be refused service or acceptance because of my skin color and until reading this article and discussing white privilege in class I did not realize that that is my own white privilege. I now think the key to stopping racism is being educated so that we are not blind to a system of privilege we are apart of as white people. Becoming aware of your privilege so that you can become educated and use your own white privilege as an opportunity to help the world instead of oppressing others is the first positive step we should all take.
“White people are people and race is a thing that happens to everyone else” (Denise Balkissoon).