8 Statements People Say That Are A Sign Of White Privilege

Have you checked your privilege today?

white woman looking at camera EkDanilishina / shutterstock.com

White privilege is like wearing glasses: you never know how much you benefit from it until they’re not there. Except, when you're white, it’s never gone, so it’s easy to ignore how much other people might be struggling when you can see perfectly with your 20/20 vision.

What is white privilege?

In short, white privilege is the social advantage white people have over other racial groups because of their skin color.


There are lots of ways in which white privilege manifests itself, but it mainly operates because most Western societies were founded on racism and, throughout history, have consistently prioritized white people over other minorities.

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For example, some of the earliest police forces in America were established to capture and patrol slaves. So, law enforcement became a system rooted in racism. White people are rarely exposed to the failings of this system because it was designed to protect them.

White privilege is opening any history book and seeing people who look like you in positions of power, while people who don't are serving them. It's walking into a toy shop and being able to find shelves filled with white dolls and only a couple of non-white ones.  


As a white person, I didn’t always get it. Yes, I knew racism existed, but I didn’t always see how some of my simple behaviors and opinions were so wrapped up in my own privileged position in the world. 

White people typically move through life with a series of head starts and test score answers, but don’t always recognize these unearned advantages; or, they deliberately ignore them out of denial and disregard for the experiences of others.

Recognizing how you contribute to white privilege is a necessary step to dismantling this system of oppression. As white people, we can always do more, and unlearning certain behaviors and opinions is an easy step in the right direction. 


Here are 8 statements people say that are a sign of white privilege:

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1. “I don’t see color.”

You might think this means you’re not prejudiced or that you don’t have biases toward certain races, but the reality is we should all recognize and embrace racial differences.

As white people, we are not racialized in the same way as Black people. Society portrays whiteness as the norm, and everything else as an “other.” This means only white people have the privilege of ignoring race because other races are made constantly aware of their difference.

To ignore race is to ignore the struggles and discrimination people have faced throughout history because of their skin color. It is also a refusal to acknowledge the culture and different lifestyles of other races and ethnicities.  


2. “But I’m not racist.”

What you’re implying here is that you are not complicit in white supremacy and, therefore, it’s not your job to stop it. This logic is inherently flawed because solving racial inequality requires the participation of every single person in the world.

It is not enough to just be not racist. Whether it’s overlooking a racist comment made by a friend or turning a blind eye to workplace discrimination, it is a privilege to ignore racism.

Denying your personal involvement also ignores the fact that racism is largely a systemic issue, rather than just an individual one. White people created, partake in, and continue to benefit from systemic racism, so it is our job to end it, which cannot be achieved through silence. 

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3. “I need a break from all the Black Lives Matter media.” 

If you’re getting worn out seeing police brutality, watching protests, and keeping up with the news, imagine how it feels for the people who have been faced with this struggle for centuries.

This is not an emerging issue; it is laced into the very foundations of this country. Yes, it is important to protect your mental health in order to be a strong ally, but I encourage you to never shut off completely from this issue because so many people don’t have the luxury of being able to do so.

Instead, see the recent protests as a powerful and positive change from the silence and ignorance of our white ancestors. 

4. “I’m not being racist. It was just a joke.”

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but racist “jokes” are not jokes, and racism is never funny.


It doesn’t matter who your audience is, what you’re saying, or how anti-racist you are most of the time. There is never an excuse to slip up and say something offensive.

Being able to joke about an issue that is deeply traumatic for millions of people is a sign that you’re detached and desensitized to the experience of racial minorities. To joke about someone is to dehumanize them to the point that they are a source of mockery to you.

Making jokes about racial minorities isn’t the same as a blond joke or even a joke that might mock white people, because blondes and white people are not brutalized and harassed just because they’re blond or white. 

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5. “I don’t want to say anything in case I annoy people.”

Advocating for Black lives isn’t something you should shy away from, and if you make people feel a little uncomfortable or targeted by calling out racism, then good — maybe they’ll pay attention.

Use your privilege wisely to educate those around you and amplify Black voices. It is a privilege to feel that being anti-racist is a choice. For many, this is life or death.

If losing a few followers or falling out with your bigoted uncle is the worst thing that happens to you in your resistance to racism, you’re one of the lucky ones. 

6. “I had to work hard for everything I have, too.” 

Maybe you’re straddled with student loans or were never able to afford to go to college. Maybe you had to break your back to get a promotion or had to pick up a couple of unemployment checks in your time.


A lot of white people get a little defensive when someone suggests they got things handed to them because of their race.

White privilege doesn’t mean you had a life free from struggle — it just means that your race wasn’t one of the reasons you faced struggle. Equating your experience to the barriers Black people have to overcome misses the mark completely, and exposes just how oblivious you are to the lives of others. 

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7. “If you abide by the law, the police are not a threat.” 

Breonna Taylor was asleep in her bed. Botham Jean was eating ice cream in front of his TV. Tamir Rice was playing with a toy in a park.


Victims of police brutality are never deserving of death and are often not even committing a crime. Even when a Black person is suspected of committing a minor offense, they are victims of deadly violence.

George Floyd was murdered after allegedly using a fake $20 bill. Michael Brown was shot with his hands up after an alleged shoplifting incident. Sandra Bland died in her jail cell after a minor traffic violation.

It is a privilege to not acknowledge how law enforcement repeatedly targets non-whites. As a white person, you cannot possibly understand how it feels to be Black and deal with a cop because our interactions with law enforcement are entirely different.


Do not justify poor police work and systemic racism by suggesting someone deserves to be brutalized by the police.    

8. “It’s just a hairstyle  anyone can wear it.” 

If you’re talking about cornrows, dreadlocks, afros, or any other hairstyle traditionally associated with the Black community, please acknowledge that this hairstyle is not for you.

These hairstyles that have become “trends” for white women are part of a historical legacy linked to slavery and institutional racism against Black women. Cultural appropriation is essentially a subtle form of blackface.

The natural hair movement has only brought about self-acceptance in the Black community in recent years after over a century of getting called unkempt or dirty and being forced to conform to white standards of beauty.


Black women who feel pressured to mimic “white” hairstyles are dealing with shame and denial of their culture, whereas white women who wear box braids or style their baby hairs are glorified and praised.

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Alice Kelly is a writer and Yourtango editor with a passion for lifestyle, entertainment, and trending topics.