In light of recent events, now more than ever it’s important to check your privilege and even more important that you know what to do with it.
Each statement that applies counts as one point.
How to check your privilege:
1) I am white.
Racial privilege starts with skin color, and if you are white, then you automatically have privilege, whether you excercise it or not. This is not bad, and you are not to blame; we cannot help what color we are born. This goes for both people of color and people who are white. But if you have racial privilege, you have to understand that those who don’t face a very different daily life than yours: a life in which we have to work twice as hard for less pay, yell twice as loud upon deaf ears, and fight twice as much for equal opportunity and an equal stance in this country.
2) I have never faced any discrimination based on my skin color.
Sometimes you know right then and there, and sometimes it takes years of reflection for it to come back to you. Whether you’ve experienced an extreme act of violence, microagressions on a daily basis, or faced one comment or question that deeply affected you, any sort of discrimination is degrading, hurtful and has no place in our country. Might I remind us all again that racial discrimination has nothing real to stand on? It exists because white people decided a long time ago that any color other than white was savage and inferior. And we have all been perpetuating this for years and years. It’s time to stop. We can’t change the past, but it’s gone on long enough, and, frankly, to discriminate against someone based on the color of skin they are wrapped in sounds crazy! I dare you to tell me it doesn’t!
3) I am not usually aware of the color of my skin on a day to day basis.
For some people of color, this is our first thought in the morning and the last thing we think about before bed. The thought stays with us all day, and it never leaves. It is reinforced heavily by the media and seeps into social platforms through small cracks. It whispers, “remember your color.” We live in a country where you are reminded what color you are every day. You’re not supposed to forget, and people like 45 and those who support him don’t want you to. And you shouldn’t because you should be proud of the color you are, but it should not define us and separate us. It should bring us together and help us create something new! But right now, this country is trying to make our skin color define us and dictate what we can and can’t do. Now, on the other hand, you may be aware that you’re white, and you may wake up and go to sleep with that thought in your head every night, but you don’t face it in practice, and it does not affect you negatively in your day, except perhaps when people call you out, which can be uncomfortable, but please remember that it comes from a place of wanting to be understood and validated. We have to work together to understand each other, both those with privilege and those without.
4) I feel like my skin color does not factor into other people’s views of me.
This one is loaded. There is the pressure of cultural expectations of identifying with one racial group, so it’s easier to place people in categories we understand, and there is the way in which people see you and make snap judgements about you, independent of how you personally identify. People will always assume things about you, especially when it comes to race because race and difference makes people uncomfortable. We would rather make an assumption than ask a question to avoid being wrong. But again, at what cost? At the cost of people getting to make these horrible and hurtful false racial stereotypes. Some people walk around every day unable to escape the way their skin color affects the way people see them. Being racially profiled, unlawful searches and unnecessary violence, having to teach your children of color how to respond in potentially dangerous situations with law enforcement, the list goes on and on…
5) I don’t have to defend my race.
Racial privilege allows you the opportunity to engage when you see fit and sit on the side lines when it’s all too much. Not having racial privilege means it’s your life. You don’t have a choice. You either engage and fight for your brothers and sisters, or we are all in danger. There is no freedom until we are all free. You get to be free now. You’ve never experienced this kind of oppression and this kind of fight, and we never have either. Our ancestors and those who came before us have, and now it’s our turn. For people of color, the fight for equality is not an option but it is what we must do to try to create something more, something better than all this.
If at the end of this, you have any number of points, whether it be 5 or 1, you have racial privilege. Please keep in mind this is not bad, it just means that you have different advantages!
“When someone asks you to “check your privilege,” what they’re really asking you to do is to reflect on the ways that your social status might have given you an advantage – even if you didn’t ask for it or earn it – while their social status might have given them a disadvantage.” -Sam Dylan Finch (Read Sam’s Full Piece Here)
The number one question I get asked by people I have this discussion with is, “what can I do?” I can only answer this from my personal perspective and this is what I say:
Reach out to any and every friend of color you have. Inundate them with love. Do not condescend or try to argue the situation, but listen and try to understand how people of color are suffering right now. Lock into empathy, and use it like it’s going out of style. Each day, there will be only more news about how the “father of our country” can’t stand up to our bullies and protect America’s children. It’s up to us to protect each other. Be a force of positivity, spread love, support and understanding. Use your privilege to help others.
This is not a space for negativity or argument. If you don’t agree, ask a question rather than assert your opinion, and be open to an answer you’re not expecting. Otherwise, you’re looking for an argument, and in that case, don’t even bother.
Sending all the love I have to spare out to those who need it most in this dark time. ❤
I stand with my brothers and sisters of color today and every day.