For better a society acknowledge the many facets of white privilege in America
While wholly accurate, I don’t feel Mr. Fine’s recent letter addresses the subject directly. I’m a white male, neatly dressed and of a certain age. As a result, white society infers on me white privilege. As I’m living proof of it – to deny its existence is to be either blind or foolish – or both.
White privilege means I can pass through any airport in the country and never get so much as a raised eyebrow from TSA agents. I don’t fit their profile. Likewise, if I am pulled over for a traffic violation I am not perceived in any way as being guilty of anything more than traveling a few miles over the posted speed limit. Again, I don’t fit the profile. No retail store clerk has ever followed me nor have I been observed by security personnel out of fear I’m there to shoplift.
I can walk onto any college campus in the country and not be assumed to be there as a result of some affirmative action program. I can also steal $65-billon from nearly 5,000 people (a-la Bernie Madoff) and not end up with four police officers sitting on top of me – one with a knee on my neck.
Indeed, if I am on the street and talking to a person of color a patrol officer will much more readily assume I’m the one being accosted in some way and offer assistance only to me. This actually happened to me. Incidentally, the black gentleman I was talking to was a federal circuit court judge. My privilege also means I don’t have to work twice as hard for two-thirds the pay – a reality that includes not only people of color, but half the population (women).
If I were non-white, none of this applies. If I were not white, I would spend my days knowing full well I am being viewed with some degree of suspicion – about my lifestyle, my employment, my motives, everything. It’s just not right.
Society gave me my white privilege – so society has to take it back. I can’t relinquish it on my own or by denying it exists. I do believe all men are created equal – or we’re all God’s children, if you will. I know for a fact we’re long overdue to either act like we believe that or just admit we’ve been lying to ourselves all along.
Darren D. Wilson