What White Privilege Looks Like Today — And How To Use Yours To Become An Ally

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What Is White Privilege And How To Use Yours To Become An Ally

Recently we’ve heard and seen the phrase white privilege all over the media. Some people are blatantly offended or utterly confused about what the phrase means.

The term white privilege is not meant to insult white people. White privilege is meant to inform white people of the oppression that their skin color saved them from and the benefits they get because of It.

What is white privilege?

"White" is the race associated with people of predominantly European descent. Individuals who belong to the white race are of the fairest complexion in comparison to other races. Historically as a whole, this demographic hasn’t been oppressed on the bases of their skin color and is often viewed as the superior and majority race.

Privilege is an advantage over something or someone. White privilege is not the only type of privilege that exists. Privilege goes beyond your race and even your social-economical status.

For example, men are privileged in comparison to women. Heterosexuals are privileged in comparison to the LGBTQ+ community. Able-bodied individuals are privileged in comparison to those with disabilities.

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Every demographic has an area of privilege and denying it makes you oblivious to the fact that being born white has blessed you with many privileges. These privileges are seen as normal to you because you reap the benefits of them daily.

You never have your ask yourself if your natural hair is “too unkempt” to be considered professional. Jobs don't pass over your application because your name sounds “too ethnic.” You never have to wonder where are all the girls that look like you on TV. You never have to worry about being categorized as an “angry Black woman” when you express your emotions.

Black people and other minorities, on the other hand, are protesting, petitioning, and rioting just to get those very rights you don't even realize you have. White people are privileged because they can go jogging without being shot, be safe in their own homes, and breathe when they are arrested.

White privilege today, is white people being able to get away with or being praised for things varying from cultural appropriation to warnings from police when Black people alternatively are punished or criticized for the same things.

When a white woman wears braids, afros, or unnatural hair colors, it's never seen as "ghetto." Instead, she is a trendsetter that gets wildly complimented on a hairstyle that is derived from Black culture. If she speaks her mind she is bold and outspoken. When a black woman does the same she is aggressive or overreacting.

White privilege, in this case, allows white women to fully express themselves, without the negative backlash Black women would face for doing so, because of their skin.

On a grander scale, altercations with law enforcement are different for Black people. White people don't have the dreadful talk with their sons on how to behave when arrested, so they can make it back home alive. Black people do.

When white people get pulled over they tend to seem to be buddy-buddy with the cops. Black people, on the other hand, tend to fear the police, because of the countless Black lives lost at the hands of police brutality and enslaved by the prison system. They don't have the fear of losing their lives or serious consequences because white people get lighter sentences for crimes.

In 2016, both Cory Batey (Black Vanderbilt football player) and Brock Turner (white Stanford Swimmer) were found guilty of raping unconscious women. There was evidence pointing to the guilt of both men, but the sentencing could not be more different.

Batey was sentenced to fifteen years in prison, while Turner was released in three months from jail.

Turner was faced with far less than the minimum sentencing for rape, and he did not serve his time in state prison. The main distinction between Batey and Turner? Race. Turner got a significantly lesser sentence from the judge because we had the white privilege on his side.

Today Turner is free, while Batey is still imprisoned for the same crime.

It reigns true, even today, that white people have always been regarded as the superior and favored race. They are treated like actual human beings, unlike their Black counterparts who at one point were legally regarded as three-fifths of a person by the US Constitution.

If that’s not enough to prove white privilege exists, think about slavery. Millions of Black people were ripped away from their families, cramped onto a boat with shackled arms and legs to be brought a foreign country, they never asked to come to. Black people were auctioned off as if they were property. They had no choice but to live as slaves who faced physical, emotional, and sexual abuse at the hand of their masters.

White people have been never slaves, and that is a privilege.

After the traditional form of slavery was abolished, segregation was the new way to keep Black people oppressed. When segregation ended, the war on drugs became a new way to farther discriminate against Black people.

Slavery has not truly ended, it just evolved into mass incarceration. Modern-day slavery or mass incarceration continues to marginalize Black communities. Black people are five times more likely to be incarcerated than white people.

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The effects of being enslaved for centuries still haunts Black people today. Since slaves were not allowed to own property and they were not paid, it significantly stifled black people’s chances of upward financial mobility and owning land. The redlining that occurred during segregation strategically placed black people in the worst neighborhoods. The schools within these neighborhoods were underfunded. Living in such environments widened the gap among racial disparities. 

To all the white people, whose ancestors were never enslaved or regarded as less than because of their skin color, you should recognize that you are privileged.

That’s why it’s so important that you open your eyes to your privilege and instead of remaining silent on racism, you should speak up. Use your white privilege to help minorities. I understand that you are white, and will never fully grasp what it means to be Black in America, that’s ok. I’m asking you to be willing to be an ally for racial equality.

Here’s how you can be an ally:

1. Educate yourself on slavery and racism both past and present!
2. Start unlearning the racial stereotypes and biases you have.
3. Learn the difference between Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter.
4. Check on the Black people that you care about.
5. Don’t be silent about your support of the Black Lives Matters.
6. Donate to organizations that support the fight for racial equality
7. Participate in a protest.
8. Make an effort to shop from Black-owned businesses.
9. Educate your white friends on white privilege.
10. Vote on legislation and officials are actively antiracist.

Black people can’t end racism on their own. We need our allies to join the fight with us. Together we can begin to put an end to racism.

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Tamara Sanon is a writer with a passion for covering topics about health and wellness, lifestyle, astrology, and relationships.