Today in White Privilege: Intent, Noticing, Examining

Great post from Jen Dziura: When “Life Hacking” Is Really White Privilege. It’s quite long but ties a bunch of instances together to highlight the phenomenon.

It happens all the time that white people claim not to be racist because they didn’t intend to be racist; they weren’t thinking about that at all.

But there are many situations in which it is precisely your job to think about that. Nothing induces more rage in others than your taking what you do not deserve and not even noticing.

A small example: Sometimes I am waiting in line, killing time on my phone, when the cashier, ticket-taker, or receptionist summons me forward. (I am fairly certain that I read as a Fancy White Lady. Now that I have a wedding ring, I may have reached the very peak of privilege in my lifetime.)

In situations in which it’s not clear which way the line is supposed to form, or in which multiple lines ultimately lead to the same service point, it has absolutely happened that I was being invited to jump ahead of someone.

Plenty of positive thinking literature would encourage me to see this as manifesting abundance or drawing positive energy my way. […] Altucher might suggest that I am “getting everything I want” by simply being nice to everyone, not arguing, and being thankful.

There is a difference between “being nice to everyone” and “being nice to everyone you happen to notice.

Skipping ahead of people in line, even when invited to do so, is better referred to as “being an asshole.” And obliviousness to your own privilege is no excuse. If you’re absorbed in your phone and not really sure if you’re rightfully next in line, it’s your job to look around and say, “I’m sorry, were you here before me?”

[…] If you seem to be “getting everything you want,” you should probably examine whether you’re getting it at someone’s expense, or whether you’re just constantly, in small ways, making the world worse.

The conversation continued on twitter:

Background reading on White Privilege:
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh
Yo, Is This Racist

Categories: ethics & philosophy, social justice

Tags: , , , ,

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