Would you be happy to be treated the same way as a black person in America today? I wouldn’t.
White privilege has it’s perks: Not being followed around a store because the sales person thinks I”m a thief. Assuming I’m safe if I’m stopped by a cop. Having the edge in job interviews.
But if I acknowledge that I don’t want to be treated like black peeps are, I’m admitting ” [I] know what’s happening, [I] know I don’t want it for myself. So why am I allowing it to happen to others.” Quote/paraphrase: Anti-Racist white activist Jane Elliott
And that brings up the reason many of us aren’t “spending our privilege,” we’re afraid. (Spending Privilege-using your power as part of the dominant group to advocate for/uplift those from a subdominant group.)
Afraid to lose our jobs, afraid we’ll offend, afraid we’ll lose our power. And let’s face it, being the privileged dominant group has its appeal.
I’m afraid. When a lit agent will only read submissions from marginalized voices for a whole month, a part of me is frustrated/afraid. Does this mean being white will be held against me when it comes to getting my book published? Making it even harder for me to achieve my dream, which is already hard enough?
Then I think, “Welcome to racism. This is a tiny taste of what it’s like to have your skin color used against you. Sucks, huh?”
So I push through my initial fear/anger and remind myself that it’s persistence that will get me to my goal. As Harrison Ford said when asked why he made it when many of his peers didn’t: “I never gave up.” And that marginalized voices having been largely ignored all these years deserve to be heard in a big way. Which then reminds me of my main purpose in life. To leave this planet better than I found it. That includes being a good ally to all subdominant groups. (*dominant/subdominant groups are a less emotional and more encompassing way to explain our social hierarchy per Audre Lorde.)
Being a good ally means not giving into the fear we all have around loss of power. Means opening up to the possibility that there’s enough power to go around. Life doesn’t have to be a zero sum game, though it feels like it at times.
How do you be a good ally? Call in (calling someone out BUT in private) your boss/colleague if they don’t treat your black colleague the same way as you. (I’m hoping that ‘calling them in’ will result in us keeping our jobs.)
Listen to black folks when they’re sharing what it’s like to be black in America. Listen to their stories, however uncomfortable they may be. Use what they taught you to intervene the next time someone is treating a black person unfairly for no reason.
If you’re an educator/parent/caregiver, talk to kids about race at a much earlier age than you think you should. (By 4 or 5, they already notice differences like skin color.) A great picture book for younger kids about what’s happening now is NOT MY IDEA.
You get the picture, right?
Why am I telling you all this? Because I keep hearing over and over again that the best thing I can do as a white person is to talk to other white people about spending our privilege. About making changes in our spheres of influence every day. Baby steps turn into a thousand steps over time. And if each of us do baby steps? That’s a lotta miles covered! 🙂
P.S. Youtube vid on the way. Because talking to each other about racism is such an important and sensitive topic, we are still working on this week’s offering regarding how to deal with one’s fear around losing power etc.
If you like what you’re reading, please subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you want to fear LESS and LAUGH more.
Questions, comments, suggestions can reach me via replying to this letter, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel.
Weekly Rad Resource From The Library: Please borrow either digitally, or in person if preferred and allowed, this terrific book that helped me understand what’s going on between blacks and whites. Note: I still have a looong way to go in my understanding.
Posted in Books, Diversity, Empowerment, Fear, Inclusion, Rad Resource, Thinking Outside The Box, Uncategorized and tagged #blacklivesmatter, diversity, fear, inclusion, white privilege by anny with no comments yet.