Whether you sing in the choir, preach to the choir or cater to the choir … there are many in the choir who are oblivious to the sour-sounding music the choir makes.
As a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something that puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage.
I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was “meant” to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks.
1. I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
6. When I am told about our national heritage or about civilization, I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
17. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.
For this reason, the word privilege now seems to me misleading. We usually think of privilege as being a favored state, whether earned or conferred by birth or luck. Yet some of the conditions I have described here work systematically to overempower certain groups. Such privilege simply confers dominance because of one’s race or sex.