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This place matters

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Pressing Advantages

Once again, I'm here to preach to the choir about privilege. The thing that I hate admitting that I have, the thing that mountains of white people swear they don't have. 
Now, if you haven't read White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh, you should. She's far more eloquent than I on this subject. But she does kind of conflate white privilege with class privilege, which causes some hangups among white folk. Papa Bear O'Reilly has pointed out that Asians on average make more money than whites, on average; yet nobody talks about Asian privilege. And lots of white folks in terrible financial situations argue that they can't possibly be privileged, because look how little they have.
And these folks wouldn't be entirely wrong if privilege were just about money. There are plenty of black people who make a hell of a lot more money than me. Like Barack Obama. What does that guy even do all day?
But here are some advantages that white folks may not know they have, that have nothing to do with money.

Privilege is not about money. Privilege is not about class. It's about... okay, maybe this is a really lame analogy: When we first moved into our apartment, there was a massive hive of bees living in the wall between our two bedrooms - but we didn't know it until they chewed their way through the walls and into our home. 
Seeing a million bees in my den was traumatic, but we couldn't get rid of the bees until we knew they were there. I don't think white people can ever truly be allies in the fight for justice until we can see the myriad injustices swarming around in the wall between "us" and "them."

1 comment:

jenny_o said...

Great essay. Those born with white skin can take no credit for it (although some seem to try) and - unfortunately - it does confer an immediate advantage that is purely random luck. If only people would realize that.

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