Real Talk: White Privilege

I grew up in a really small town in Ohio, without many people of color, so I had distorted views on race as a child. Of course we learned about things like slavery and the underground railroad, but being so young I thought that it was all in the past and that we were all equal now. I was in for the shock of my life when in 6th grade I moved to North Carolina to realize it’s a lot more diverse down here. Since we were in the south, I learned a lot more about segregation and everything that was happening around me. At the time, I thought it didn't really affect me because I was white.

 

Even though we are all supposed to be equal now, that is sadly just not true. You see it everywhere you look, in TV and movies where there isn’t very much representation for people of color. When they are on TV, a lot of roles are stereotypical, like playing only bad guys or being shown as uneducated. These things aren't true, but when you grow up watching them that's what you think and it causes a divide. I will never forget my first year in North Carolina when I was in Greenville and went to a school that was predominantly African American. One day we were dropping off my little sister’s friend at her house and my mom and little sister walked her up to the door while I was waiting in the car. I saw three African American men walking down the street and proceeded to yell “ Mom hurry gang bangers are coming.” I am so embarrassed and ashamed that I ever said that now. I'm sure they were just nice, normal men walking through their neighborhood, but because of what our culture teaches I was scared. We need to do better and our culture needs to make a change.

 

We need to change, but we cannot become color blind. You can't just say everyone's equal and that you don't see color.That just ignores the problem, and people should be able to be proud of their heritage. They should be proud to be Asian, African American, Hispanic, White, ect. Not everyone is the same and that is okay, we shouldn't have to erase color to treat everyone equally, it should just be an automatic response.

 

A lot of white people get offended when they hear the words “white privilege,” they say things like “It's not my fault I’m white” and that is true, but that doesn't mean white privilege isn't real or prevalent. As a white person, I can go into any store and know I will be able to find a lot of hair products and make-up for myself, I see myself represented on shows, I'm not really worried if I get stopped by the police. If for some reason I get arrested I’m a lot less likely to be presumed guilty or serve a long amount of time. These are just a few of the many things that are because I am white. I don’t feel guilty and neither should you, but you need to recognize these things and use your privilege to speak up for others.

 

We live in a broken world and unfair world, but one by one we can change that. We can’t erase what has happened in the past, but we can control the future and speak up about the injustices we see. Listen and learn from what people, especially people with less privilege, are saying and be kind.