Understanding Privilege

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” – Benjamin Franklin



White protesters march in solidarity with their black community in Minneapolis, Minnesota to bring justice to the death of George Floyd.

“I don’t care about white privilege because it doesn’t affect me in my daily life.” A quote from a white person.

I hope that person now understands that just by saying that, they are exhibiting the privilege which they have. If they do not understand, here is a rundown on privilege.

America was founded by white immigrants from Europe. Ever since the birth of this country, white people have been primarily in control of almost anything you can imagine. Things have changed since then, however–people of color are seen in more fields of work than ever before. But in general, white people still have the high ground.

White people have never had to worry about the things that black people do. From a young age, black children learn how to behave in the public eye so they don’t get killed. They learn to act as if there is a target on their backs at all times. Always comply with cops if they pull you over. Never reach for something that the cop can’t identify. Don’t talk back.

In the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by a white police officer due to suspected forgery, it is important to understand the purpose of Black Lives Matter in this current situation. Think of it like this. If you fall off your bike and break your arm and scrape your leg, when you go to the doctor’s, the doctor will treat the broken arm first because it is the most dire issue to take care of; the scraped leg can wait until the broken arm is tended to. “All Lives Matter” is a privileged statement. You are turning a blind eye to a problem that doesn’t affect you directly. Yes, all lives do matter. But right now we need to prioritize Black Lives Matter because they are actively being oppressed.  

After protests in Minneapolis, Minnesota turned into riots, President Trump tweeted on Twitter:

Notice the message above from Twitter. This is the first time Twitter has stepped in on one of Trump’s tweets. (Twitter)

Yet after white protesters went out and protested their “right” to get a haircut and not wear a mask during this global pandemic, he tweeted: 

Notice the change in tone between the two posts. (Twitter)

It is clear to see where Mr. Trump’s priorities lie. He is giving the privilege of an option of a calm discussion to the white protesters. Not to the black ones. The protests in Minneapolis began peacefully, but after a while the police became involved; tossing tear gas and shooting rubber bullets into the crowd. They turned into riots because for so long, the black community has been oppressed and they wanted to make noise. They wanted to finally hurt their oppressors back. The difference here is that white people are protesting so they can get their lives back to normal. You know who else wants their lives back? The people who were killed by the police. The black people are protesting for their lives. They are protesting to survive. For their right to live.

White privilege is benefitting from the system that was designed in your favor because it was designed by those like you.”

White privilege is applying for a job and not fearing that you won’t get it just because of the color of your skin. White privilege is going for a jog and not worrying about whether or not you will get shot. White privilege is being able to walk out of a convenience store and not worrying about your life ending. White privilege is benefitting from the system that was designed in your favor because it was designed by those like you. White privilege is having the choice to get involved in a situation or stay in the background. White privilege, however, is also choosing to get involved and stand up for your fellow humans who may be a different color than you and not worrying about your own life.

You cannot ignore something just because you are uncomfortable with it, especially when it regards the life of another human being at risk. You may feel like it’s not your place to be involved in a Black Lives Matter movement, but I assure you, the support you give to them would mean everything.

If you are white and are looking for a way to support the black community, here are some things you can do. Donate to organizers of protests, repost things on Instagram, make art, protest, sign petitions. In your daily lives, recognize your privilege! Use it to protect people of color. Call out racism among your friends and family. Help to change the mindsets of the people around you, and that will help change your mindset as well. Recognize any biases you may have. Spot and fight injustice. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Educate yourself about these issues. In general, just make noise. Do not be silent. Speak the names of the victims. Say their names because they can’t breathe.

If you remain silent, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. Be an ally. Use your privilege for change. Act up. It’s about time.