5 Truths About White Privilege for White People

 

The first time I heard the term white privilege, I did what many white people do. I leapt immediately to defending myself from whatever accusations those words generated in my mind, choosing to passionately present the case for my innocence rather than simply listening.

In the years since then I’ve learned a bit, thanks to some good and really patient people who cared enough to endure my ignorance and give me time to step outside of my experience enough to see more clearly. It’s a daily endeavor and I have a long way to go, but for those reading this who happen to be white—here are a few truths I wished I’d understood better back then. 

Privilege simply isYou are privileged whether you believe it or not. The way the world sees you has made a difference since the day you showed up on the planet. Your pigmentation has come with certain advantages and exempted you from specific obstacles and there’s simply no way around it. If you are a white person living in America or many other parts of the world, you have had the luxury of feeling as though your skin tone is somehow the default, the baseline; that you are the standard against which others are measured and referenced. This matters because it has altered your daily experience of the world and your very sense of identity. You’re not privileged if you’re white and mean or white and racist or white and a jerk. You’re privileged solely because you are white.

You don’t have to feel your privilege for it to be real. In fact, the essence of privilege is that its effects are so subtle and so built into your daily experience from birth, that they are hardly noticeable. They are givens that are givens to you precisely because you look the way you look—but these realities are not at all universal and that’s the rub here. Like breathing, privilege is simply a reality of life that you are largely unaware of. Over time, you may learn to see it on display in certain moments and precise ways, but the greater truth is that privilege is at still at work even when you cease to be aware of it.

Privilege isn’t personal. This isn’t about whether you “like” people of color, whether you have black friends or not, whether you listen to hip hop or not. It’s not about whether or not you vote Blue, or whether you do or don’t or say whatever you believe “racist” things to be. In many ways, this isn’t about you. The heart of privilege is that it is a systemic reality; you are part of a larger truth that is far greater than your individual experience or personal actions—as important as those things are. Recognizing privilege isn’t just about policing your behavior or monitoring your thoughts, it’s about purposefully pushing back against systems that nurture injustice and inequality in our culture, in the workforce, in our government.

You can have it tough and still be privileged. Like many white people, the suggestion of my privilege initially felt like a statement that my life was free from discouragement, pain, or hard work. I rushed to present my life resume and to detail the hardships I’d experienced as a way of refuting the charges I imagined levied against me—but this was and isn’t helpful. Of course you can be white and work hard and face disappointment and prejudices of some kind. You can be white and poor, white and unemployed, white and struggling. But the truth of privilege, is that even on our worst day, our color is a help that will always shield us from the greatest adversity, the kind that people of color encounter with great regularity.

Shame is the wrong response. Many white people, once faced with the understanding of the advantages they’ve been afforded because of the color of their skin, choose to withdraw into a place of guilt and shame. They make the moment of clarity about feeling bad about themselves. This is a selfish response that is itself a form of privilege, because it centers your experience and it changes nothing about the reality of the systems that are preferential to your pigmentation. I began to understand my privilege once I realized that it didn’t require an apology, just a response that intentionally leveraged that privilege for justice. White people, we don’t have to be sorry for being white, we just have to be aware that being white has been a help and it gives is a platform and influence which we get to use to do something beautiful. The redemptive response to the truth of our privilege isn’t shame—it’s movement.

This is certainly not an expansive or deep understanding of white privilege. For that you might look here or here or here or here or here.) Better yet, you might sit down with a person of color and ask them what white privilege means to them, and instead of defending your position or refuting their feedback—simply listen.

 

119 thoughts on “5 Truths About White Privilege for White People

    • There is significant truth in the article but excessive focus on race privilege often leads to questionable or stupid outcomes. There are about a 1000 types of privilege and in my experience skin color is rarely eve in the top 3. There is edication privilege wealth privilege height and attractiveness privilledge age privilege experience privilege fluency or articulateness privilege. Nationality privilege, Intelligence privilege social skills privilege and endless others. Many people understand they are getting and not getting a host of assumptions, which is good to understand and adjust to and mitigate. Unfortunately too many people fixate on one type or class of privilege and loose all perspective, believing the world revolves around one issue. It doesn’t and regardless of which you fixate on obsessing is both unhealthy and often leads to worse problems than the underlying problems.

      • I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark and guess that “edication” “privilledge” is not one you’ve been privy to?

        • Or, on the other hand, I have lived through my own story and have considered a lifetime of my own evidence and perspective. And simply disagree with John’s point of view. What is your perspective?

          • I disagree, too. Male privilege is a more pervasive problem in modern times. Modern sex slavery and sexual exploitation is our greatest societal ill. Plenty of people do not see any problem with it. Only a nitwit would justify the horrors of slavery based on race. But daily, the average computer user is complicit in today’s worldwide sex slave trade. Its ramifications are being normalized by popular culture. For a female, privilege could be seen as having freedom from being abused and objectified.

      • I’m mystified as to why focusing on racial injustices would lead to ‘worse problems than the underlying problems’. Addressing any systemic bias is going to make the world a better place, in my view. As a woman, my primary interest is in promoting women representation in government, business, health, and education, so that the officials in these fields aren’t overwhelmingly male. That doesn’t blind me to the difficulties experienced by people of color, the differently-abled, gays/ lesbian/ trans folk, etc. In fact, my experience and understanding of the bias against women makes me that much more empathetic to anyone who doesn’t fit the socially defined norm. I’m not sure what you mean by ‘obsessing’, unless it’s that activists are becoming more demanding because their requests for social justice are being ignored.

    • It was succinct and beneficie I app the effort Sim Black and will share this with You I call the police on a White person and who gos to jail happens every day

    • So true!! Now that Ive been married 21 years to my African American husband I can attest to this. I get treated differently when Im out with him or any of our 5 children. Friends and family say silly things that they dont even realize…like oh I didn’t know he could be so cool or intelligent…etc. I have watched him try harder to prove himself to get jobs, I have witnessed people in church ( of all places)not wanting to shake his or our hands because we are together. Luckily we can laugh through these reactions these days but it is a shame that when I’m alone or with my white friends etc….I don’t have to worry about the comments or dirty looks. He is an amazing person and is unfortunately treated differently because he does not have the same white privilege that I do!

      • I hope everyone reads your comments. If we started with this one part, worked to fully grasp what that has been like for your husband, for you and your children. Once you can acknowledge this piece, move on to the next one. Work through until we can understand the hundreds of ramifications of this insidious white dis-ease !

  1. One small addition: if you choose to ask a person of color what white privilege means to them, be sure to do it after you’ve spent some time learning about this stuff, so that you’re not perpetuating your privilege and continuing to harm by asking the oppressed to educate the oppressor. I’d love to see more black voices in the links, too, but aside from those small items, spot on. It’s sad that whites will only listen to this from other whites, but glad to see someone I admire using his leverage for this long and difficult battle to eradicate systemic racism.

    • Thanks for your point about asking POC for their perspective. I would add that it’s best to ask someone with whom you already have a relationship, or to seek out POC who have chosen to volunteer their labor to help white people understand privilege and other angles of systematic white supremacy. It feels like stating the uber-obvious, but unfortunately it’s not.

      • About 20 years ago, a professor from a different department approached me after attending a speech somewhere on “diversity.” He said “I realized that I didn’t have any Black friends. I was hoping you and I could start a conversation.” Had I known him, I might have been more generous with my time…

    • So here’s my thing: if you seek to be understood, then you should be willing to educate. I honestly don’t think it’s fair to expect a Anglo to understand a (fill in minority) without taking some responsibility for that education, even if it is just throwing a web link at them.

      As a lesbian, I get asked some pretty dumb questions (“Who’s the man in your relationship?” Etc.). But aside from an eye roll, I do try to make an honest effort to answer that question, because I want people to understand who I am, and by doing so, I am hopefully sowing the seeds of tolerance.

      So, I do not understand why African Americans get their shorts in a twist when an Anglo asks for help in understanding the issues/problems.

      • Angela,
        The reason many minorities feel the need to point out the oppressive nature of being asked to educate those with privilege is that they face far more risk than benefit in doing so, since those with privilege can so easily disregard or discount what they are saying. If someone in that situation chooses to open up and share and educate, they are running a risk and doing important, but often unrecognized and uncompensated labor.
        I see your point about if someone wants to be understood, practically speaking, they’ll have to answer questions at some point. I think, though, that often it’s easy for those with privilege to slip into a mindset of being “owed” explanations, especially as they do so out of a desire to affirm that they are a good person. That can often lead to an exploitative situation and repeated experience with that may make people wary and upset at being asked to educate those with privilege.

        • A lot of people put others in a double bind where if they say something you disagree with and say they got their information through research, then people yell ‘YOU NEED TO ACTUALLY TALK TO US’ or ‘THAT’S NOT REPRESENTATIVE OF US ALL’ – but then when people ask them individually, you know like how normal people talk, they’re accused of forcing privilege onto the speaker because they’re “owed explanations”, but then if someone doesn’t educate themselves at ALL then they’re a moronic bigot. So which is the right one?
          If someone literally comes over to you and asks ‘I wish to understand more about your culture, could you show me?’ or ‘I think it’d be great if we could mutually benefit one-another by discussing the issues that effect us as individuals and helping each other learn about others’, how is that a bad thing to ask?

          • That answer twists both logic and common sense. It is an attempt to discredit all honest inquiry. While it is true that not all people don’t have the stones to give honest answers in a conversation because they want to be inoffensive to someone they are face to face with, that is not anyone’s fault but the cowardly participant who won’t tell the straight up truth about their thoughts, feelings or experiences. I’m no more powerful than anyone I dialog with, and I appreciate openness and candor. That’s how we learn from one another and improve. Shame on anyone who tries to turn a conversation about these issues into a power play – or, who complains that conversations can never be fair because of history. That is an unnecessarily self-defeating argument that can only serve to keep Americans divided.

          • Thank you for that. I want to put forward the effort to bring different ethnicities together and sometimes it seems hard to overcome the inherent basis on both sides of the racial divide.

            • I can appreciate that people of all ethnic backgrounds might find it difficult to come into conversations about race and class feeling defensive and guarded. But I think the true leaders among us realize this is such an important discussion that there’s just no Rom for that. Scary? Perhaps. But truly the only way we will ever get past our problems. All of this puts me back in touch with what a pernicious sin and gross evil, racism is. It shouldn’t be so hard. But I have to admit, even as I strive for light in my own mind, that there truly are challenges to starting and persisting in the open and fearless dialog I advocate. Because not all humans are acting in good faith with one another.

            • I would be willing to hear how you strategize to bring folks of different cultures together. Is this a paid motivation ?

              • Paid? What makes you ask that? No pay for me other than trying to live my life in harmony with everyone, regardless of skin tone.

    • yes Julie H. I’m over educating or explaining. Not doing it anymore. Many of the folks commenting are doing exactly what White Privilege does… over and over again.

  2. Beautifully stated, I struggle with this daily. As a white, gay man in his dotage, raised in small town Texas, It seemed, as of the age of 13, that my sexuality entered the room before my skin tone…..the discrimination I received was thoroughly integrated……however, the upside of all these years around the sun, is to be able to finally acknowledge and see the systemic racism and my place within it , accept it, fight to change it, and take at least a slight step out of the “center of the universe.” As I said, a daily walk, and much props to you for continuing to keep me on the path, putting in words that which float, but can’t get organized, in this brain’o’mine. thanks Pastor.

  3. Thank you for your words today John. I have to admit that I grew up in a small town that had almost every nationality. There was only one high school and though there minorities in number – fewer black or Japanese there was no prejudice between races. I think the only difference might have been poverty and wealth with the middle class in the majority.

    I consider myself lucky to have grown up the way I did and understand that most have had a different background. With a smaller group we all understood that making someone an enemy meant fewer friends to enjoy.

    • Confederacy worship—know it well. That is the thing so many non-southern Americans do not understand about the American South. Just like in the song “Dixie,” the America South is the place where “old times are not forgotten” so “look away, look away” (meaning hide your eyes from this awful thing that has befallen our great and precious Dixie. Remember her only as she WAS—not as she now IS.

      My point here is simply this. In the American South, TRADITION IS EVERYTHING. It does not matter if it was good or if it was evil. It was the TRADITION—and the tradition must be forever uplifted and defended at all costs. This is the problem with religion in the American South today. It is not so much a matter of correct theology as it is the uplifting, preserving, and defending the SOUTHERN RELIGIOUS TRADITION bequeathed to us by our precious ancestral forebears.

      If you are a white person born and raised in Chicago, you have no more feel for this than you do the term “white privilege.”

      Been there. Seen all that.

  4. This is an excellent explanation of the term “white privilege.” I grew up poor and white in a white ghetto neighborhood that stood just across the two-lane main highway from one of the two poor African-American neighborhoods in my hometown of Gallatin, Tennessee. The thing John is so especially correct about here is the fact that white privilege is an unconscious condition. It is like walking around in your skin. Nothing seems different or abnormal just because you have always had your skin since birth and take it for granted. Sure, Coca_Cola has caffeine in it, but you have been drinking it since you were a very small kid. The caffeine was always there, but caffeine never bothers you, so you were never really conscious of it—but it was nonetheless there.

    If you grew up in a nice middle class or upper class home, the notion of white privilege is a best an academic concept. You have to grow up poor and black or poor and white—and actually live it in bad socioeconomic conditions for the nature of it to come into full and obvious focus.

  5. I was raised in rural Texas by a Christian mother and very bigoted father so I wasn’t exposed to other cultures or races until adulthood . For the past twenty years I have been blessed to work on the campus of one of the most racially diverse universities in the United States, and it has been such an eye-opening experience. I have come to know and love people from many different races, religions and cultures, and those experiences have made me more and more aware of my white privilege. I now see things through a new lens and I try to speak up when I see or hear behavior that denigrates anyone. Last weekend I was stunned by a situation that I should have known better how to handle. While proctoring the SAT exam for a small group of high school students with varying learning disabilities like dyslexia and ADHD, I needed a bathroom break. My room was completely under control and two students had already finished that section so they had their heads down napping. Both male, one was black and one was white and both were extremely courteous, well-behaved young men. The colleague who came to relieve me is retired from our campus police force, so perhaps her experiences there have affected her perceptions, but when I returned, she said in a very negative tone “What’s that kid’s problem in the back? Is he just not taking his test?” I felt very defensive and explained that he had already completed that section and had my permission to rest with his head down . After she left my room I was struck by the fact that the white student was doing EXACTLY THE SAME THING and she never noticed or commented on his behavior. How I wish I had the opportunity to relive that moment to say to her “Ummm, he’s doing the same thing that white kid is doing – taking a nap while waiting for the rest of the class to catch up.” Thank you for this post, which is a great reminder to me that we cannot just see these situations, shake our heads and say “Yep, that’s wrong.” We need to speak up, and I pray that the next time I’m in a similar situation I will be brave enough to do that.

    • I also was struck this week, after the fact, with an instance of racism where I wish I had lovingly called the person out. White privilege is so thoroughly integrated into the daily fabric of our lives that we don’t realize an opportunity for consciousness raising until it’s passed. I, too, pray for the courage to speak up, and for the unwavering clarity to recognize the opportunity to raise my voice in the moment of the transgression.

  6. Truth. I, for one, look forward to the day when this privilege dissolves away, when we finally achieve true ethnic, gender, socioeconomic, racial, and sexual equality. There will always be bigots on all sides, but if the rest of us can come together and shout down thsee inequalities, we’ll all be better for it.

  7. Thank you John. I am a white South African female teacher, married to a minister in the Methodist church, which is predominantly black in our country. I am of an age where I transitioned from full apartheid white privilege at school, to a multiracial and multicultural university (quite a shock to a white teenage girl) then back to teach in a white school which voted to become multiracial, then through our wonderful democratic elections in 1994, giving birth to two children of the Rainbow Nation, both of whom have true colourblindness. We now find ourselves, 23 years later, dealing with racism on a daily basis in SA, and much of it has to do with this lack of understanding of innate white privilege and the fact that our people have not really TALKED about racism honestly and openly. Wounds and scars are still painful. I will share your post in the hope that it initiates some dialogue. Thank you for being brave and honest.

  8. While I totally agree with everything you have said, John, I wonder if you or your readers have encountered what my daughters and others in their Tumblr community refer to as the “white savior” complex or actions? Another aspect of our recognition of the privilege into which we as lighter-skinned people were born in this country is to listen to what people of color are telling us they want us to do with that privilege. All too frequently, we have a tendency to rush into situations to “save the day”, when our intervention may not be needed or welcome. As you said, the important thing is to listen to what we are being told, and to ask questions of our brothers and sisters to find out what we are being asked to do. Sometimes our efforts to compensate for our position of privilege is to disregard what others are telling us they need, and thinking we know best how to fix things. Respect is such a big part of acknowledging privilege. Thank you for writing about this so often misunderstood reality of American culture.

    • Uh huh. I am a white woman married to a person of Algonquin heritage. That gets me slightly closer to hearing what people really think. In Canada, the white people came in, all acting like they knew best, committing cultural genocide, breaking up families, removing traditional sources of food, or moving people off their traditional lands to places where the food sources were not known, making any expression of spirituality illegal, and also making it illegal for a First Nations person to consult a lawyer. White people have wielded death and destruction. Now that we understand what we have done and the terrible result, the last thing that First Nations people want is white people marching in acting like they know best how to fix this mess.

  9. John, yes, and yes, and yes again.

    I remember growing up Roman Catholic in my hometown and all the children in my RC private school were white. All the people who worshiped on Sunday were white. I don’t think I encountered any black people until seventh grade and despite everything my father had ever said about them, to me, the kids in school were just other kids. I brought them home for study sessions, sleepovers on the weekend and while my father was polite to them when they were in our home, he let me know how disappointed he was in me. Well, what was one more disappointment?

    I remember as a freshman in college being told by the head of SNCC that I could not be permitted to help the black movement because I was white and couldn’t be trusted because I could always bow out and my white skin would allow me to hide in the crowd. I don’t think the term “white privilege” had been invented yet but that is what he meant.

    I can’t do anything about getting rid of white privilege, all I can do is be aware of it and act rightly when it rears itself up and the only way I can do that is through God’s help.

    • Yes you can help get rid of it by educating your own people about it. Then use fairness instead of judging what a person looks like on the outside. You will have trouble doing this as those in power want to remain in power. Even the ones in power will silence forever those who come up against it including those who share the same skintone. In the mean and between time you are still enjoying its payouts but even all things eventually come to an end even if it existed way too long of centuries.

  10. Once again you speak truth. I was brought up being taught this truth and have tried to pass it on. Wish I had had your gift. If I hear lift yourself up by your own bootstraps one more time I will scream. If you are white there are so many more helping with that bootstrap only because you are white. By the way, this is from an old white lady. Peace, Love and Resist.

  11. I first experienced white priviledge as a teenager working at a fast food restaurant. Me and a black girl around my age were hired around the same time. I noticed there was difference in how we were treated, it was subtle but distinct. When she wasn’t around my co-workers made comments like “watch her hands in her pockets so she isn’t stealing change” or they would say, “she was hired because of a government program, so she doesn’t need the job. The company needs her for the wage supplement”

    I made friends easily while she was shunned. There were a lot of assumptions made about her that I had questions about. She kept to herself on breaks. I tried to say hi to her one day with the intention of befriending her but she glared at me and didn’t say anything– then she made an excuse to leave. I think there was so much negativity generated by the horrible behaviour of my co-workers that she didn’t trust any of us. In my gut I knew it wasn’t because she was a bad person but because she was protecting herself.

    She was gone after a month. I don’t know if all the rumours and talk were true but I do remember feeling relieved that I wasn’t treated that way. I was a new employee too and I needed the job desperately.

    I felt helpless to do anything to change the situation at the time. I think as an adult looking back, now, I would have done things differently. I would challenge the statements made by my co-workers. I would ask do you know that to be a fact? or let’s not judge her before she has a chance. I think I would have persisted more by truly getting to know her rather than letting her rebuff me or worrying about what the others thought.

  12. Where does ‘White Privilege’ come from?

    It comes from that philosophical place from whence you have deconstructed Institutional and Legal Racism then realized certain groups of people aren’t ‘getting ahead’ to your satisfaction.

    Instead of examining social and economic trends over the past half century (aka FACTS), you create a condition the dominant group has which is nebulous and appeals to a sense of Liberal Guilt (while tacking on ‘shame’ being an ‘incorrect’ response ~ so is Pride a better response then?).

    Where was ‘White Privilege’ in the 1970’s and 80’s when minorities were making historic gains? In the 1990’s and early 2000’s when their economic shoe print was the largest in history?

    For that matter, where is White Privilege with record numbers of Black and Hispanic women entering college programs this year?

    Where is ‘White Privilege’ when you take into account the most successful ethnic group in the US isn’t White, but East Asian?

    By all means, ignore the massive numbers of Whites living in poverty, or homelessness, when explaining THEIR privilege … except you don’t want to go into White homelessness and poverty because you want to make this about RACE (an immutable) instead of Economic and Social Status (variables).

    Also, by sleight of hand, you have to dismiss every non-White who has ‘succeeded’ to become the top in their profession ~ respected, wealthy, famous and renowned … or even those who have achieved Middle Class status really ~ the American Dream … because if enough succeed without this ‘White Privilege’ then ‘White Privilege’ becomes valueless.

    See, the flip side of ‘White Privilege’ is that any non-White who gets ahead only does so because they are BETTER THAN their contemporary White colleagues … because Whites have “THE PRIVILEGE” and the non-Whites don’t.

    ***

    Or, you could look at another phenomena.
    You could look at how difficult it is for children born in poor economic circumstances to better themselves if born into single-parent households.

    You could look at the collapse of the Black nuclear family since the 1960’s to the point today where 77% of Black children are born without a father in the picture … and born into poverty.
    Black children are running around with guns and murdering other Black children.

    You could complain about Black men receiving longer sentences for similar charges in our Justice System except such things are based upon, among other things, the chance that person will have of falling back into a life of crime if given a lesser sentence. Broken family lives and poor economic circumstances = longer sentences.

    Black men commit more homicides than White men in this country despite being ~ 6% of the population.

    How is this White Privilege?

    Every other community is gaining on White prosperity in this country except one – Black America. EVERY SINGLE GROUP – even Aboriginal Americans. They are all becoming better educated and climbing the socio-economic ladder. White Privilege isn’t holding them back. The Systemic Racism of the 17th, 18th, 19th and first three quarters of the 20th century have been rapidly eroded.

    If you are a fifty, sixty, or seventy year old relating the experience of your youth … it was in your youth. Such attitudes are the relics of internet trolls and 15 to 40 person “Bring Back the Bad Ole Days” rallies ~ be they KKK, neo-Nazis, or their own brand of anti-Semite, hate-filled Snowflakes. How anyone could confuse these Morons as the Popular Opinion is beyond me. And, even then, when was the last time any of those yahoos rioted? Smashed storefronts? Pulled people out of cars and beat them up? Set cars on fire? You know – truly dangerous stuff?

    And there in lies the only ‘Privilege’ I acknowledge ~ that we live within a Society carved out of the Western Democratic Judeo-Christian Tradition with our own special bits of Americana thrown in (aka Why the Bill of Rights makes us truly “special”).

    By denying White Privilege, I accept every person I come across has the same capacities as I do, neither weaker (thus needing shelter from my White Privilege), nor stronger (having only achieved equality with me by overcoming my White Privilege). I gladly celebrate our differences and readily agree we have differing backgrounds which provided each of us different challenges and benefits.

    I refuse to fall into this Marxist pit trap of the Privileged and the Oppressed because it turns human beings into blocks of flesh ~ voting blocks of cattle. I prefer to believe in individuals and each individual having an individual’s net worth of wonders and experiences to contribute an share. As Pink Floyd said … “not another brick in the wall”.

    • Simply said Dosher there are barriers set up against minorities and class which individuals have to work harder to overcome and sometimes it is impossible to because people allow those barriers to continue. Blacks doing better is a good thing and could be considered a result of things like Affirmative Action as an example.

    • Mr. Dosher, I read this much too long piece and all I can think of is this “a woman has to be 100% times better at something than a man to be considered as 50% good as the man.”

      Basically, you just said the same thin about all non-white people.

    • While I applaud your view that everyone is equal, the fact remains that white privilege, just like male privilege, just like straight privilege, exists.

      White privilege exists in the sense that they’re often treated very different by police. White privilege exists when minorities are paid less for the same work. White privilege exists when a black woman can be kicked out of a store just because she’s black (it happened at a Macy’s in Alabama back in December). White privilege exists when minorities are passed over for employment for a less qualified white person.

      Yes, strides have been made toward equality. Yes, we’re at a point in history when minorities have never been closer to being equal. However, we still have a very long way to go, and until we all can admit that these privileges exist (in particular, the privilege that white straight cisgender men enjoy), we will never overcome it.

      • Many Times it not that , it is that there is So Much media portraying the black communities as demons, of darkness and crime ridden areas , it leaves a bad impression.
        or if your an officer of the law and you have to deal with this day in and day out and you see 90% crime of that ethnic race .
        After a while you , and your fellow officers develop a attitude of expectation for that community.
        Not understanding, Attitude.
        Any community gets that stereo type in it. Not just Blacks
        This is 1/2 Truths told by the media. Crime is Crime no matter where it is. and who it is committed by.
        The Truth is NO Accountability from the parents and memorializing Wrong. , YOU Must Hold True To LAW and JUSTICE , No privilege to anyone. LAW is LAW

    • JD:

      …by definition, White Privilege is a ‘special right’ available only to a white person.

      I understand & agree with the whole idea that ‘white’ people in USA have advantages, but I don’t think it is an actual ‘right’.

      Can we use the blanket term ‘White Privilege’ when we know there are many, many examples of ‘whites’ that do not have special rights in our country?

      Is this a Movement headed by white people? [If it is, it’s another example of their ‘privilege’. ] I think it’s good for the privileged to step aside –for once.

    • While YOU may accept every person based on innate worth, the matter of the fact is, even poor whites are treated better than well to do people of color. They(poor whites) do not have to worry that by simply stepping out of theirhomes they are at risk of being murdered by police or others for the color of their skin. They won’t be charged higher interest rates on loans because of the color of their skin. They won’t be denied housing, jobs, etc. because of the color of their skin.
      Poor whites do not get pulled over or stopped by police simply because they are poor. But well to do colored people get pulled over or stopped by police all the time simply for being colored.
      And as for your contention that colored people commit more crime and are more inclined to recidivism is just not true. The fact is if your white and commit rape you get a slap on the wrist. If you are black and commit rape you get twenty to life. If your white and get caught with cocaine you get a slap on the wrist and sent to detox. If you are black and get caught with crack (still cocaine , just in a different form) you get 25yrs.
      Even in school, colored children are punished more harshly than white children for the same offense.
      To ignore all of this (and much more)shows you have no idea about your white privilege and the effect it has and will always have on your life versus what people of color have to deal with every day.

      • I remember seeing an article from a black mother writing about her son in kindergarten who had already been suspended three times for nonviolent infractions. When she mentioned that at a school event, the white mothers were appalled. Their sons had bitten, kicked, punched, and shoved and all that happened was a call home to mom.

        • Black kids are being arrested for less than those white kids.

          I try hard to drum home the point that non-white people are not treated with equality every day in my group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff. It seems the best thing I am able to do is get the word out there so that others who are better equipped to oppose it, will.

          One way to persist in resistance is my FB group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff, where I post actions, petitions, info, actual news, evidence, facts. There’s a pinned post that I highly recommend people read. I also ask a screening question so I can keep the spammers and the trolls out. All who read this are invited.

          https://www.facebook.com/groups/gloriamariesprogressivepetitions/

      • As a white woman I agree with everything you say. I have brown skinned members of my family and they and I can attest to what you say. Thank you for saying it. Peace………..

    • Many Times it not that , it is that there is So Much media portraying the black communities as demons, of darkness and crime ridden areas , it leaves a bad impression.
      or if your an officer of the law and you have to deal with this day in and day out and you see 90% crime of that ethnic race .
      After a while you , and your fellow officers develop a attitude of expectation for that community.
      Not understanding, Attitude.
      Any community gets that stereo type in it. Not just Blacks
      This is 1/2 Truths told by the media. Crime is Crime no matter where it is. and who it is committed by.
      The Truth is NO Accountability from the parents and memorializing Wrong. , YOU Must Hold True To LAW and JUSTICE , No privilege to anyone. LAW is LAW
      The Truth is it depends on where you are, what the area is , who is predominate in that area , and who is working, not working, culture

  13. Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) is a great group for white people to meet up with and learn and talk with other white people about white privilege. There are groups all across the country, and you can always start one in your area if there isn’t one already.

  14. About a year back, I was at a conference talking to a white man. The problems that people of colour have with police officers was much in the news. The man spoke about his white son. His son has many good friends and several of those friends aren’t white. The man was upset with the stories that he had heard from those friends about the way that they were treated, and not just by police, for going about their days in a morally upstanding way. He finished by saying that he was glad that his son was not being judged like that all the time. I replied, “But he is.” The man looked perplexed. “He is being judged, but being found to be okay.” I watched as a whole carton of light bulbs turned on in his head.

  15. I am a middle age white woman in the South. Yes, I have the privilege! I rarely get pulled over by the police and rarely get a ticket when I do. I can enter any restaurant and get service, usually very good service. I can wander through shops without security following me. I didn’t even realize this was a privilege until one day a coworker was late AGAIN! His excuse? The cops pulled him over, never told him why, ran all his papers and finally let him off with a warning. He said it happened about once a week to or from work. This rather unbelievable (to the whites anyway) statement, sparked an eye opening conversation. All the minority employees had been enduring this harassment since the office moved. I learned a lot about what they were enduring and once it was in the open it was a common topic of conversation.
    That was the first time I really got it.

    • Trust me if you are in the Wrong community at the wrong time you will get beat to death, or vandalized, or hurt , robbed , left for dead.
      Don’t believe 1/2 truths from the media , internet.
      You are a victim in in the others community uninvited.
      Tell me that is white privileged
      You have percs in the area of your color, race, belief , no matter who you are.
      The Whole Truth , No Lies or 1/2 Truths

  16. I just came back from D C after going to the new African American museum. I understand exactly what you mean John. We do just need to listen.

  17. Thank you John. After coming through the haze of this election, one of my first thoughts on how we move our country forward in a sustainable way was…”have your people talk to your people”.

    The vitriol of man made ‘isms’ will collapse under the weight of communication and contact if we dare to engage. In the words of Fredrick Douglass,
    “The thing worse than rebellion is the thing that causes rebellion.”

    Great first step. Well done.

    -Black woman

    • I read the article Wayne. The premise is that homosexuality is not like any other sin. Which is true because it is not a sin. This is why it can be celebrated. It doesn’t fit with all those others sins listed in the article because all those actual sins harm people and cause damage.

      • Sorry Dont agree, Sin is sin
        If God Destroyed countless generations in the past , do you really think he will spare, you, me, them those who reject truth and commit abominations against Him. Rejection of Gods Plan is the Sin. Rebellion against Gods plan is the sin.
        Homosexuallity is just another form of rebellions, selfish pleasure, lustful desire, ungodly acts of immorality.
        Read the bible, Romans chapt. 3 , read Leviticus, Read Deut. old testiment.
        God is NO Respector of any one person. Standards, Precepts, codes, Rules, Structure to protect mankind from unnatural acts against Him/Herself

    • Appinion is as it states appinion.
      Standards stand the test of time.
      Rebellion has a consequence
      God is Holy and will NOT accept Rebellion NO MATTER WHAT
      There is a price for sin, rebellion, lust, passion against God.
      Hardened heart, desease,
      YOU will not be able to tell the truth from the lie.
      Romans 3 tells of gods handing them YOU over to a reprobate mind.
      YOU must change, turn to God

      • Hey Christopher. If, as you say, we are not able to tell the truth from the lie then who can know truth? Instead the truth is a person being honest. The best thing I ever did was be honest about myself and that helps me have a relationship with Jesus.

        Sorry I stressed you out !

  18. Privileged is as it says , privilege not specific to race, creed , color , but perception.
    It i , in attitude believe in myself and feel good about myself then how am i privileged. Anyone who is put before another is privileged.
    Get off Your High Horse and be real, call it for what it is . Prefference. and all race’s have it. If i am in any community the previlege is slanted toward s the family, friends, preference of that community or religeon.
    this is not white, black, or any other color. That is a racist remark from the black side to get your attention off the real issue.
    All Are sinful and there is no difference. Rebellion is Sin. And there is a consequence for Sin. Even if I don’t believe , accept, or trust in it.
    Just a Hardened Heart to Say ( I don’t accept, believe, trust ) Still Rebellion.
    YOUR still accountable even if you reject the Truth.
    NO way out , God Still accepts people who repent, change, turn from ungodly lust, desire, passion that leads to death eternally.
    Truth will survive the Time allotted to mankind. and we will all face that judgement , no exception.
    When you take the color, race, make, model out of the picture we are all equal in Gods Eyes. Yes Accountable for every action, thought, idea, deed we /you /I do .

  19. John Pavlovitz take you’re white guilt propaganda and shove it up your azz. Make article about minority privilege next

  20. The Theology of Suspicion: What ‘Get Out’ Can Teach White Christians

    By Kenji Kuramitsu 03-17-2017
    Print
    To tell the story of black photographer Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) on a visit to her family’s suburban home, Get Out director Jordan Peele doesn’t need to venture into the supernatural to dredge up terror: America’s history offers more than enough material. Throughout the film, Peele invokes haunting racial symbols of slave auctions, black thralldom, and white social fear around miscegenation. The result — a hypnotic thriller, and Peele’s directorial debut — powerfully uses the medium of horror to leverage a searing critique of post-raciality highlighting white America’s ongoing complicity in anti-black violence.

    The monster here isn’t a dark beast with glistening fangs — it’s white people themselves. Get Out specifically echoes critiques of white liberals made by Malcolm X, James Baldwin, and others, calling into question the very idea of the “Good White Person”(™), whose basic politeness toward black people — or preference for having sex with them — supposedly mitigates their participation in white supremacy.

    In this sense, Get Out resonates with black liberation theology’s contention that white Christians are uniquely disfigured by the violent logics of race. That is, whiteness has so powerfully marred the vision of white Christians — distorting ancestral legacies and narcotizing conscience — that black people must approach the white Church and its demonic legacy of racism with vigilance.

    “All I know is, if I’m around too many white people I get nervous,” Chris admits. But like any good horror lead, Chris swallows his intuition, leaving moviegoers shouting at the screen. Chris’ best friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery), a TSA agent, bluntly channels the audience’s frustration at Chris’ inability to detect the danger around him (“Bruh, how are you not scared of this, man!?”). Rod’s work in airport law enforcement has trained him to carefully scrutinize the familiar — and, more seasoned to deception, Rod is far more prepared than Chris for the possibility of betrayal at white hands (“I told you not to go in that house!”).

    The rest may be read here: https://sojo.net/articles/theology-suspicion-what-get-out-can-teach-white-christians

  21. THE COLOR OF WHITENESS
    By Christopher Petrella & Josh Begley

    Who is white? Who is not? How has that changed throughout U.S. history? Legally speaking, how have some people gone from white to non-white and back again?

    Drawing on U.S. naturalization racial prerequisite cases, state-level “anti-miscegenation” and “racial integrity” statutes, and 19th and 20th century civil codes and institutional practices, this evolving project dramatizes the shifting and arbitrary parameters of whiteness: white one minute, not-white the next.*

    Whiteness is and always has been a moving target, a set of slippery and porous boundaries subject to expansion and contraction based on the political needs and moral panics of any given moment. Located at the intersection of law and representation, The Color of Whiteness demonstrates that the racial ideology of whiteness is not fundamentally reducible to color. Whiteness, rather, is a category of racialized power that can—and must—be historicized, resisted, and undone.

    You may read the rest here: https://colorofwhiteness.com/

  22. White Privilege means “Shut up you are not a member of a minority group” (A privileged minority group). It is reverse racism of the highest order. You are basically saying to white people who are not racist and you can’t find any proof that they’re racist that they must be racist because they’re white. That is called racism. If you are accusing somebody of something simply because of the color of their skin without any evidence, that’s called racism.

    Ben Shapiro

    • If you think white privilege is a made up concept try going back to the Bible and find who the slaves were. and who were the slave masters?

  23. I suppose I am white privaliged since I am white. Nevertheless, I recall quite distinctly being disregarded numerous times for academic positions because I was both white and male. Indeed, I was told by the Department Chair at the University of Chicago,,who was black , that I would have been hired immediate.y had I been black . I t was a very sobering experience . I still feel a certain degree of bitterness bUt at least somebody finally told me the truth about the nature of academic racism. I suppose I have profited from that experience but it is difficult to see how.

    • Jack-You have me thinking here. What happened to you was not fair either, but that does not change history. It does not change who the slaves and the masters were. It does not change that in 2017 young black poor men are the highest category of people being shot down by police under “questionable circumstances” ( at best) in every major city in the US. It does not change that in underdeveloped countries (such as all countries in Africa) you can be shot on the spot by a corrupt government for being poor/of color /LGBTQ/a woman…It’s just not a fair world we live in; never has been.

  24. There’s lots of truth in this article. Yes, we’ve had a black president, etc. etc. – but any honest, educated assessment of America must conclude that there is still racial injustice. And – the words “white privilege” damage a cause that any fair-minded American should support: to make America a truly fair society. Why do I say this?

    – Its nuanced psychology encourages a certain category of people (in this case, white people) to accept that justice demands that they lose something (their “privilege”).

    – It implies that “racial equality” must be a zero-sum game. In other words, for my non-white neighbor to gain equal footing with me, I (the white guy) must lose something.

    – Words and labels matter. When you slimply that a certain category of people must lose something, you will antagonize them. It’s basic human nature.

    – 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS DEMONSTRATED THIS. Donald Trump, the very candidate most hated by the scholars who invented and now teach our kids the concept of “white privilege,” was propelled to the White House by the backlash against the idea that white people must give up something so that non-whites can have justice. (I did not vote for him.)

    – RACIAL EQUALITY IS NOT A ZERO-SUM GAME! No one must
    lose anything; in fact we should all gain. When America fills the magnificent Dr. King’s promise of being a land where the Founding Fathers’ vision truly extends to all people, WE ALL WIN! The best society for all of us is the one that encourages and allows all of us to reach our full potential without any encumbrances, including guilt over our success was unfair because we were unfairly privileged. I realize the author has said that guilt and shame are not appropriate white responses; but many whites will stop at “white privilege” and tune out the rest of the message. In fact, in 2016, they did – rejecting the candidate who embraced and pushed this kind of political overcorrectness, and choosing an unqualified man to lead our nation.

    When we truly love one another in the here and now, and when the ideas we advance are motivated by a spirit of lifting one another up rather than a spirit of retribution or gaining concessions or putting each other down, only then will our racial divide truly heal. I live for that day.

    I pray that all people of goodwill come together behind something we agree to call “liberty and justice for all.” Much more uplifting, encouraging and persuasive than some of the current messages and prescriptions for healing the divide.

    • Just because many whites will tune everything out after they hear the term “white privilege”, does not make it right that they have that reaction. I don’t know what in the world you’re talking about when you talk in terms of “loosing something” as the white guy.

      Do you even understand the need for such a group as Black Lives Matter? Or are you one to think that all lives matter, period? I say be thankful that your white privilege affords you to not be in a marginalized group. History dating back to Biblical times teaches us that slaves have always been the folks with darker skin (example: Egyptians) and their masters/rulers were white (example: Romans).

      Did Civil Rights not teach you anything about white privilege either? I have never even heard of this” zero-sum’ business that you mention; it does not make sense. As a Christian I am in favor of non violence and unity of all peoples of faith. As an American I certainly am in favor of liberty and justice for all. The trouble is that society has never given everyone an equal chance. All of the best leaders, starting with Jesus, and going right on throughout history have been crucified and assassinated! Is that liberty and justice for all? Do you think it was some kind of coincidence that MLK, Bobby Kennedy , JFK, Medger Evers, Malcolm X, Harvey Milk, Suffragists from the women’s movement and so many more, were all pushing for racial and gender equality? No–it was because of fear and hatred that they were killed before they could effect the change that needs to happen to get us to that truly free and equal place.

      I still believe that love wins over hate and fear, but it’s slow going from the inside out, from local on out to national and simply not even human nature. It’s the nature of God and human divine nature. Without God it’s a loosing battle.

      I for one am not going to apologize for who I am nor choose my words carefully so as not to offend or label someone. A bigot is still a bigot. A racist is still a racist. They’re not going to disappear if we simply don’t mention them. BTW, Bernie Sanders was the only viable candidate for the goals of all the people. I don’t shy away from the labels of establishment democrats and progressive/socialist democrats either. I think it’s clear what side of the fence I’m on. What about you and the rest of the USA stuck with Mr.- not- my -president; shamed before the whole world by his sheer incompetence, ignorance and bigotry? Did your resistance to labeling save us from a leader with such a global lack of respect?

      I really pray for peace and unity. I think we just differ in how we would choose to achieve that goal politically.

      • Well Deborah, I’m certainly glad you pray for peace and unity. So do I. I’m not sure we agree on much else in terms of how our great Republic has gotten itself into such a horrible leadership crisis. Our enemies – and they are real – celebrate our divisions because they understand the best way to destroy America is from within. You might want to think about that as you continue your dialog with people that you aren’t in agreement with. I’ve seen some of your other responses to other people, Deborah. You can get your points across in a more constructive and thoughtful way if you worked at it.

  25. If ever there was cause to use the overused phrase, “it is what it is”, that time is now. I have been aware of my white privilege ever since I was in high school in small town CT, 68-72. I came out as LGBTQ with my best friend from HS at 20, while making good on my plan to move to CA at 21. It helped my “escape plan” that my partner (who happens to be Lebanese) was going to UCLA. We became parents of a biracial son in 77. When he was six we were visiting hometown CT, when he remarked to my mother, “I feel like a brown spot on a white page”. He has never chosen return visits as an adult; I completely understand. I’ve been a “CA chauvinist” for many years; I’d never live anywhere else in the USA. Sure it’s not perfect, but it’s more “open-minded”, politically progressive and culturally diverse than just about any place else. John, you’ve nailed this subject and continually inspire me! God Bless!

  26. Pingback: We Have to Talk About White PrivilegeBig Green Pen

  27. White guilt rears its ugly head in so many stupid ways. Instead of privilege, how about lack of opportunity for blacks? You might want to read up on Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge to find out the extent to what people go to when they feel some are privileged.

  28. I understand what you are trying to say. I have read about and had discussions about the points you have made here (and more). But I believe that applying the term “white privilege”–and it’s somewhat derogatory connotations–oversimplifies very complex problem of social inequality and injustice. I think it would be more beneficial for everyone to come to the table with the understanding that it isn’t easy for most of us. Most of us have experienced discrimination and prejudice in some form at some point in our lives (based on gender, wealth, education, ethnicity or nationality, sexual orientation, age, religion, place of birth, family background, physical appearances, etc.); most of us have faced challenges, struggles or obstacles in life, and at least some of those challenges probably involved some type of social inequality; most of us have experienced the frustration and anger of seeing others enjoy “privileges” (or blessings or whatever else you’d like to call them) that we do not; and most of us work hard to be the best that we can be.
    You made this comment, “Like breathing, privilege is simply a reality of life that you are largely unaware of. Over time, you may learn to see it on display in certain moments and precise ways, but the greater truth is that privilege is at still at work even when you cease to be aware of it. ”
    I’d like to suggest that this realization goes both ways. We might realize that there are certain “perks” or “advantages” that we enjoy without thinking about it, simply because of who we are. But some of us are very aware of the “perks” and “advantages” that we do not enjoy, because of who we are and where we come from, and the “invisible” obstacles that are placed in our way by systemic inequality.

  29. No. We will not change anything to make white people comfortable with white supremacy. We have worked for free, cruelly treated ever since. NO @

  30. Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Segregation, Civil rights movement, faced institutionalized racism in education, housing, justice system but fought in every war. Still second class citizens. Lied about and on, robbed of our culture, language & our God. White people created this system, but we’re supposed to educate you? Everything we are you appropriated it. You only have culture 6,000 years old, we have a 200,000 plus years old civilization but you want to be ancient Egyptians? You couldn’t pick your own cotton in America but you built the Pyramids? White people created white supremacy and you benefit from the brutality of your ancestors. White privilege is what you want to keep. How else do you have any identity outside of the Caucasus mountains unless you can have someone else to feel superior to. Who are you without inequality? Melanated people possess dominant DNA,talent, intelligence & spirituality. why would you want a level playing field? Educate you? Explain ,

  31. As a white man who grew up in poor neighborhoods, I call bullshit on this whole white privilege thing. I remember being oppressed by a few teachers because I was white, saying I don’t know as much struggle as the rest of the class. Keep in mind, I was in the lowest income household of them all. I was turned down jobs over far less qualified people of color (I worked my ass off to receive several certifications useful in many jobs, and even managed to squirm my way into a magnet school). I can almost guarantee that white privilege is just a left’s excuse to make class privilege a racial issue. Also, if you want to talk about odd names getting thrown out, let me introduce you to my Greek, Russian, and Norse friends. You’ll get a kick out of how many application they must not have had viewed.

  32. Many good points made. However, saying “better yet, sit down with a person of color” is extremely problematic. You’re not entitled to an explanation of your privilege. The act of seeking out a POC to ask them about your privilege is itself an exercise of privilege, because you are demanding time and emotional labor from someone who is forced to be more aware of the realities of privilege and oppression in our daily lives when you ask them to explain things to you. If privilege comes up in conversation, and if a person of color wants to discuss it with you, so much the better, but otherwise there are ample resources online that can help you educate yourself on white privilege.

    • Who is the final judge of whether a person is white? Are there degrees of white? Are there degrees of privilege? Are there degrees of bullshit?

  33. Hello,
    I have been reading your blog for awhile now. First I would like to commend you on your bravery for speaking out on topics that obviously upset people who then go on to question your christianity. When I first came across one of your pieces, and realized you were a pastor, I was like “ok, here we go, same old, same old”. To my surprise, it was exactly the opposite. I have never been a part of the church and have always felt judgement and hypocrisy. You have single handedly changed that. I would never before have subscribed to the blog of a pastor. To me, you show the very best of Christianity and what it is really about.

    All that being said, have you seen this article. It also speaks to how white people automatically get their backs up when race and racism is brought up in conversation. I have found it a wonderful resource.

    http://www.salon.com/2015/04/10/white_americas_racial_illiteracy_why_our_national_conversation_is_poisoned_from_the_start_partner/

  34. An observation on simple white privilege…..my husband and I, both white and middle aged, average looking people, own a condo in myrtle beach, sc. To access a certain part of the beach, we leave the grounds of our condo, and walk through the all white, upscale, neighborhood next to us and use their private beach access. We walk past security, home owners, etc., and smile and speak like we belong there, which we don’t, and are actually trespassing. We have frequently noted that if we were black, we would undoubtedly be stopped and questioned about our presence and use of their boardwalk. White privilege.

  35. Another Grand Slam. I just love you!

    And the clueless ones on this thread complaining about this or that individual incident in their lives have no idea what it is like to have a heart ending stream of incidents like that, day after day, year after year, everywhere you go and to every one of your friends and family.

    Nothing says privilege more than having 97% of what you want and being pissed off that someone else got the other 3%. They are all bent out of shape about the one job they didn’t get that they are blind to all the benefits they DID get.

    I do agree with others though about it being tricky to ask PoC to explain racism to you. Whole libraries of books have been written. White folks can do a lot to educate themselves.

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