What is White Privilege?

December 8, 2017

 

As a leading provider of therapeutic and education services, Momentous Institute focuses on building and repairing social-emotional health — developing kids who become self-regulated, good communicators, problem-solvers, empathetic, grateful, gritty and optimistic.

The term “white privilege” has entered the common vocabulary when discussing issues related to race. We hear it all the time, but today we want to take a minute to really explore the topic. What is “white privilege” and what can we do about it?

White privilege is the idea that white people in America have certain advantages that people of color do not have.

White people often don’t have to worry about certain issues that people of color do. White people can travel to any city, move into any neighborhood, attend any school, feel comfortable at any place of employment and shop at pretty much any store without harassment. White people see people like them in leadership positions across the board, from politics to the workplace. White people can choose to interact only with other white people. White people can choose not to think about race.

All of these are examples of privilege. They are freedoms inherently afforded to white people.

“BUT NOT ME!”

Some people struggle with the topic of white privilege because they think it doesn’t apply to them.

White privilege does not imply that white people do not have to work hard or that everything is just handed to them. It’s not about economic status or a life of ease. A person can have white privilege if he’s never been the only one of his race in school, at a job or at an event, has never been called a racial slur, or never had to wonder if he’s being treated a certain way because of his race.

It can be difficult to confront this topic. It isn’t easy to think about systems that we all participate in every day, and even more challenging to recognize when we may be perpetuating injustice. But it is important that we take the time to really challenge our beliefs and assumptions, understand what part of the racial conversation we hold, and move forward towards healing and reconciliation.

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