My Problem With “White Privilege”

I have a big problem with the term “white privilege.”

What a shocker, right?  A white woman who finds the idea of white privilege disturbing. By this point, I imagine you’re either rolling your eyes at my sheltered ignorance or ready to begin our heart-to-heart about the oppression of white people, for a change…

But it’s not what you think.

You see, I get that white privilege isn’t supposed to mean white people never have problems. I realize that no matter what a crappy, abusive family white people were born into and whatever economic disadvantages they may face, they’ll probably never deal with certain hardships, such as:

  • Being pulled over by a cop because of their skin color
  • Not being followed and/or harassed whenever they go shopping
  • Having a pipeline that could poison their drinking water routed through their homeland at gunpoint
  • Having to worry about their innocent kids being shot by police

To name a few.

I get it, to the extent that someone who hasn’t personally felt the emotional toll these situations can take is capable of. I’m not saying the problem doesn’t exist… I’m saying I don’t like using the word “privilege” to describe it.

Because “privilege” means a special advantage, granted to a select few, that goes above and beyond the call of duty. Privilege is being born into a family of billionaires, being able to buy Disneyland for the day so you won’t have to wait in lines, or having diplomatic immunity in a foreign country.

Privilege means getting something unfairly that most people don’t get. It’s being spoiled, having more than you deserve. It’s in a whole different class than our basic human rights…

Which is why we call education a right, not a privilege. Because EVERYONE should have access to education. Not just an elite few.

So when I hear about white privilege, it sounds like we’re part of some pampered little club where people don’t worry about their kids being gunned down on the streets: Oh, La-ti-dah, aren’t you so fancy with your not-watching-your-children-be-murdered parties?

And it angers me, because NO ONE should have to worry about that. NO ONE should be seeing their baby’s lifeless body laying in the road, just because they were dressed the ‘wrong way’ or someone got trigger-happy. And NO ONE should have to hear their baby deserved it, because he was a dangerous thug who once shoplifted or panicked when officers surrounded him.

It shouldn’t be a “privilege” not to have your innocent children killed, it should be the default rule of any half-fucking-decent society.

For me, hearing about white privilege is like someone calling some kid a spoiled brat because his parents abused his baby brother more when they were growing up. The problem isn’t that the older brother wasn’t beaten enough–it’s that the baby brother was  abused at all.

Blame the sociopathic parents. Blame the system. Just don’t blame big brother for not taking the brunt, because that makes it sound like beating children is reasonable.

NONE of us should be dealing with these kinds of abuses. I don’t want to normalize it. Our dignity, our freedom, and the safety of our children shouldn’t be considered privileges, but the minimum, baseline expectations that everyone should be taking for granted.

And if they can’t be taken for granted, the problem isn’t that we aren;t facing these hardships, but that anyone is.









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