Did you manifest it or is it White privilege?

Phrases like “the Law of Attraction” and “manifestation” have boomed over social media in recent years. The practice of manifestation involves goal and intention setting, visualization and believing that good things will happen to you if you raise your “vibe.” I’m no stranger to writing out my goals and listening to a ten-minute meditation on YouTube that inspires me to start showing up as the best version of myself, but I’ve noticed a trend within this social media craze and have heard my peers bring it up in conversations surrounding the idea of “getting what you want.” There is a not-so-fine line between manifesting and having white privilege to get what you intend. 

The Law of Attraction is part of New Thought philosophy, a spiritual movement that grew out of the United States in the 19th century. The Law is a statement that believes positive or negative thoughts will bring positive or negative experiences and/or change into one’s life. But what happens when one lives in a society which represses and discriminates against one’s own community?  

“I saw a meme recently,” Ruth Ann Stearns writes on Medium. “It said ‘Did you Manifest it or is it White privilege?’ What if your positive happy ‘manifestations’ of wealth and abundance also come from the real advantage that you live in this white body, in this time and place, that you have tremendous resources which most of the world does not have?” What this belief in “manifesting” says to the non-White population of the world is that they did not try hard enough to boost their mood in order to change their circumstances. In reality, they’re part of a systemically repressed and racist society beyond measurable control.

If you are born White, you are born privileged. It’s time to start reminding yourself of that. You are allowed to have bad days and all of your emotions are valid, but think twice before you start manifesting a promotion or raise and understand how your privilege isn’t extended to everyone. 

“There are disturbing trends in economic mobility for African-Americans nationwide. White men continue to dominate executive and managerial roles at companies with more than 100 employees,” writes Michael Gee for the Harvard Business Review. “In 1967 African-American median household income was 55% that of whites; in 2016 that number was 61%.” Those numbers haven’t changed much in fifty years. Black Americans are getting less raises in pay and less promotions compared to their White counterparts, and it’s not because of their mindsets and vibes. It’s this country’s inherently racist systems that keep Black workers from moving up the ranks in professional industries. 

Personally, I think manifestation and the Law of Attraction are great methods to set a positive intention to your day. In the morning, list five daily, weekly, yearly or life goals, and ruminate on them for a few minutes. While you’re imagining these goals coming to fruition, if you are White keep in mind your privilege. Do you attend a prestigious school that your family can afford to send you to? Does your family member run the company you dream of working at? Unfortunately it’s one’s skin color that allows them to succeed in the United States. With the way our government was founded and continues to be run, perhaps with your privilege you can manifest the outcome of the next election or Senate hearings and meetings to benefit all Americans regardless of their skin color.