Ok… So feel free to keep reading. In fact I would encourage you to, but I will warn you now that this post will most likely offend some. But, we all know by now that won’t stop me from writing it.
These last few days, this whole race issue has been heavy on my mind. Between cutting out my own family members and dealing with fall out from that, as well as realizing people’s true stance on the issues that have been arising, it just feels like it’s definitely been at the forefront of every waking moment since the weekend.
So I’m going to lay it out here, because this morning, my boss made a comment, that I had to ignore in the moment, and to be honest at the time it didn’t seem like a big deal and I’m sure we’ve all heard similar statements and brushed them off as well. But as the day has worn on, it’s been bugging me.
My co-worker was basically just making conversation and made a comment about what was going on in the States (Charlottesville etc.) and my boss was basically like “yeah… whatever” and kinda shut down the conversation before it could even begin.
Now as I’ve been thinking about it, I’ve realized it’s that exact action, the action of in-action, is the definition of white privilege. By “avoiding politics” or wanting to just stay out of it, because in your “perfect” world it doesn’t affect you, that is privilege in action.
You are proving to the world that by being a white, well off man, you have nothing to worry about, and therefore you can just brush aside the worries or concerns that the rest of the world is facing. You don’t have the fear that your race, gender, religion, beliefs or any of that will lead to anything of consequence for you.
You don’t live in fear of bigotry, deportation, segregation, or random police checks that could end in beatings/murder. You’ve never had to fight for your life. You didn’t struggle to find a job with people judging you on your melanin, or where you were born, or your hairstyle for that matter, let alone a solid well-paying career.
You think that by staying out of it, you are fine, and will not be affected, and that is 100% true. Your life will not change one bit, by you ignoring the struggles of others. You will not know the pain of walking down the street and being called names based on your skin colour. Your days will continue on as they always have, easy breezy lemon squeezy. That is white privilege.
And I get it. I totally obviously do. Maybe not to the extent of my boss being that he’s male, but I’m a white woman living in a fairly white society, and I have a good paying job and a house and a car and life is good for me. But I have also been on the other side of things.
I was a white woman in Kenya.
I was lower than low. I was a woman, which is difficult enough even for Kenyan women, and I was white. I was a Muzungu. I walked down the street and had that insult hurled in my face on the daily, among MANY others. It’s the equivalent of being called a N****r here in North America but for whites. Not everyone appreciated me being there. They thought I was there to steal their jobs and their money and whatever else goes through a racists head. I had to walk with E or my farm boy or a crown of neighbours when I went to town for my own safety.
So when I talk about white privilege, yes, I get it. I have it. I am privileged here in Canada. But I am actively choosing not to be blinded by it. I know from personal experience how it feels to be judged by my skin colour, and nothing else.Those people in Kenya didn’t know anything about me other than I was white, and still assumed I was a horrible individual based on that fact. And since then, remembering how I felt, the feeling of being unsafe, or almost in constant fear, I have consciously made a decision to never judge anyone based on skin colour, tone, hair, or where they were born.
I will however judge you based on how you treat myself and other humans around you.
So yes, I understand “politics” can get annoying, or draining and you don’t want to talk about it sometimes, but that’s what privilege does. Makes you think you are safe and secure in your own little bubble. Allowing you to feel it unnecessary to join in with these situations.
But I’m saying maybe step out of your bubble for a second and stand back to take a look at the actual shit going on in the world. Not to fan the flame and spread hate and oppression, but to support the people who need it. Especially if you are in a position to do so.
-DC Talk/Coloured People-