Saturday, May 10, 2008

white education

i've learned a lot in the past 6 months of being married to julie. some of it has been hard, and some a bit easier. one thing that i'm learning more and more about each day is white privilege. i'm going to be completely honest here and say that before i met julie, i was ignorant/naive/uninformed as to the existence of white privilege.

white privilege is defined this way on : "a right, advantage, or immunity granted to or enjoyed by white persons beyond the common advantage of all others; an exemption in many particular cases from certain burdens or liabilities". this happens in everyday life. the fact that many times, in the course of looking through résumés, an employer will ignore those from people whose name "sounds" black. or that salespeople are more willing to help a white person in a store, while a black person may be watched suspiciously. how often have you passed a black person on a dark empty street or alley & the thought "i hope he doesn't try to steal my wallet" has crossed your mind? i'm sure this doesn't happen in the same scenario when the other person in the street is white.

this can happen consciously or subconsciously, but it does happen. all of this is the result of white privilege, and it's roots stretch back to the beginning of before the founding of the united states, when europeans came over committed genocide (some even call it a holocaust) over the native americans, killing an estimated 90-95% of them. why? 1 obvious reason is the selfish reason of having more land. Another reason comes from a quote by the father of our country and our 1st president, george washington, who
"preferred buying indian's land rather than driving them off it because that was like driving "wild beasts" from the forest. he compared indians to wolves, "both being beasts of prey, tho' they differ in shape"" (taken from Robert Jensen's book "The Heart of Whiteness").
this mentality toward nonwhite people continued into the era of slavery in the states, and still happens today.

i know this is a lot to wrap your head around, and this is only the beginning of all that white privilege entails. i'll write more in the future about it as i learn more about it. and don't think it's limited to just blacks & whites. it stretches into hispanics & whites, asians & whites, etc. the biggest step forward is realizing that it is there and doing your part to erase it in your own life...which can take a lifetime to occur.
thanks for reading this.