What do you think of when you hear the words “white privilege”?
They make some people shift uncomfortably in their seats. I think this is because it doesn’t get discussed enough.
In this social climate, following the recent tragedies of racial injustice — George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor — it’s time to unpack white privilege.
It’s important to not only understand what white privilege is but also how you can use it as a resource in the stand for equality and justice.
What Is White Privilege?
White privilege is defined as “institutional and cultural preferential treatment and exemption from racial and national oppression” for white people (Racial Equality Tools).
Unfortunately, in a society as free as ours, racism still exists. People of color experience prejudice that white people don’t. And it’s black people, like Tamir Rice, Atatiana Jefferson, and Eric Garner, who have suffered from racial discrimination.
As a white person with white privilege, I move through the world differently and in many ways unhindered as compared to a person of color.
Examples of White Privilege (You May Not Know About)
White privilege exists in ways you may never have realized before. It exists in seemingly minor and mundane things:
- Finding makeup in your skin tone
- Finding hair products for your hair texture
- Reading books and watching movies with characters that share your life experience.
White privilege can also determine how people perceive you — judgment based entirely on the color of your skin. I can walk around my neighborhood without people thinking I don’t belong. When a police officer pulls me over, I don’t immediately fear for my life. I have the privilege of carrying on with my day without thinking about how people will perceive me because of my skin tone.
But what if you’re Black?
Shola Richard, a workplace civility activist, explains how he always brings his daughter and dog when walking around his neighborhood. When people see him, he’s just like any other “loving dad and pet owner.”
But everything changes when he’s alone. Instead, people see him as an “athletically-built black man in a cloth mask who is walking around in a place where he doesn’t belong.”
We see instances of white privilege every day, yet some white people close their eyes.
Why Some White People Stay Silent
The concept of white privilege is uncomfortable for most white people.
A common criticism is that not everybody who is white has overtly benefited from white privilege. And many white people who achieve success believe it’s entirely because of their hard work.
Here’s what Teaching Tolerance has to say about it:
“White privilege is not the assumption that everything a white person has accomplished is unearned … Instead, white privilege should be viewed as a built-in advantage, separate from one’s level of income or effort.”
Built-in advantages, like employers choosing a resume with a more white-sounding name or being approved for a home loan because you come from a “white neighborhood.”
White privilege can be difficult to digest. You probably feel ashamed or guilty.
But what if you can turn that shame into determination? What if you can use white privilege as a resource — a resource to help you stand for equality and compassion? What if your white privilege can help you create the positive change you want to see in your community?
This is how I do it.
How I Use my White Privilege to Stand for Racial Equality
I Call Out Injustice When I See It
When I see tragic headlines, like the horrific murder of Trayvon Martin, I call it out.
I do my research. I talk about it with my family. I share it with my friends across social media.
We must shine a light on injustice and stand for positive change and accountability.
We have a voice and our voice has power.
Use your voice to raise awareness and stand for equality.
I Teach Love and Compassion
I can never fully empathize with the hardships that a person of color experiences. But this inability to fully empathize does not mean I should do nothing.
What I can do is use my platform to teach self-love and self-compassion. Because your circle of influence starts with you. When you learn how to love yourself and be compassionate to yourself, you can slowly push that circle outward.
You have more power to help others.
You have more space in your mind and heart to lift other people.
You can take that compassion and love for yourself and share it with others.
And in these times of social unrest, we need compassion more than ever because positive change is rooted in kindness and a willingness to help others.
I Empower YOU So You Can Empower Others
In my articles, I often talk about self-care. And I do my best to address women who are busy professionals and entrepreneurs.
The landscape has changed for women. We’re feeling overwhelmed with life more than ever.
But when we neglect our health, everything collapses. When women are burned out, unfulfilled, and unhappy, society declines.
That’s why I use the various experiences and knowledge I’ve accumulated to empower you through self-care. Because self-care is what encourages you to be:
- Physically healthy
- Mentally sharp
- Emotionally resilient
I want you to feel powerful so that you can make beautiful changes in your own life and have the strength and resources to create positive change in other peoples’ lives.
I empower you so that you can empower others.
In the comments below, use your voice now to share one thing you’re doing to create positive change in your own life and/or the lives of others.
Become an Ally
Spreading awareness about racial equality starts with becoming aware yourself. Begin with educating yourself about racial equality and anti-racism. After you do this, you can then learn how to use your resources to spread equality and compassion.
And if you’re called to be an activist, you can use your white privilege to your advantage as you ally with those who suffer from racial prejudice and discrimination.
To learn more about racism towards people of color, here’s a list of anti-racist resources for becoming a white ally. If you haven’t already, help spread the message of Black Lives Matter and sign this public open letter to end racism and stop police brutality.
Also, sign up for my email list to receive valuable and actionable tips on self-care and living your best life — because creating positive change in other people’s lives starts with how you treat yourself.