Letting Cooler Heads Prevail: Racism and White Privilege

Rohan Mathew

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Race is always a charged topic that many people are afraid of discussing, even within the safe space of their families. This is hardly surprising as the subjects of race and racism in particular, have a long history of being the sources of conflict and hate.

How Does White Privilege Affect Racism?

To understand this, we must first understand what white privilege is and the implications of the existence of such a thing in America and the whole world in general.

What Is White Privilege?

In the famous words of scholar and activist Peggy McIntosh in her 1988 paper ‘White Privilege: Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack’, “[White privilege is the] invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was ‘meant’ to remain oblivious.”

Put simply, white privilege is being pulled over by the police and not feeling scared because you’re not white.

White privilege is not having to worry about your neighbors calling the police just because you walked down the street.

White privilege is being sure that your race will not affect how institutions such as banks and schools will view you and decide whether or not deny you service.

White privilege is being able to able to tell your kids that they can be whatever they want to be because their race will greatly reduce the number of obstacles in their way.

White privilege is all the individual and systemic advantages white people get over other races just because they are the majority of the population.

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How White Privilege Affects Racism

Needless to say, not all white people are racist. In fact, many of them are pro-equality. Now, this doesn’t mean that it’s okay for them to play the ‘but I’m not racist’ card when it comes to white privilege. The fact of the matter is, enjoying white privilege at the expense of other races is still a form of racism.

The only way that we can have equal opportunities for everybody regardless of their race is when we abolish favoritism towards the majority, granted by the majority.

As Touré tells us during his journey of self-discovery, the only way to make sure that we are all productive members of society is through love and tolerance for ourselves and people who are members of other communities.

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The Bottom Line

It’s great that you’re not racist. However, it is not okay if you’re in denial about the advantages and privileges your race has granted you over other races.

The only way that we can solve this problem is by first acknowledging its existence and by being open to discussing it and finding ways to make sure that all races are treated equally and without favoritism.

Become a champion of equality and initiate the conversation about white privilege with your community. It’s only by being open, willing to start a discussion, letting cooler heads prevail and accepting the elephant in the room that we can move forward.