Privilege: a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.Lexico, 2019
The word privilege comes with a lot of weight, to which individuals and groups of people do not get the luxury of bearing. Being born with privilege is like winning the lottery. It’s living with cheat modes on. Not everyone is aware of this. Having privilege is not having to worry too much about politics. It means you have more of an opportunity to succeed. I thought only extremely rich people were classed as ‘privileged,’ but it became clear that it wasn’t just that. It was my face, maybe not so much my face, but my skin, my eyes, my European nose. The typical features that mirror what a white person ‘should’ look like.
When I turned seventeen, I discovered Macklemore an American rapper. I first listened to ‘Same Love’ and was instantly moved by the poetry in his lyrics. I then listened to ‘White Privilege II’ and I grew a whole new perspective on the world. A world that is so set in my favour because I am white. It sounds stupid, that I had to listen to another white person to realise my place in this world. It is not that didn’t know I was lucky, because I was very much aware of poverty-ridden countries. I was also aware that my family had money – more than the average family. And I was aware that people with coloured skin were treated differently. However, I didn’t know what to do about what I already knew. I couldn’t help being born in the suburbs of England or having white skin. That was out of my control. But I did realise that to make a change, people needed to start talking.
I was not exposed to my privileges when I was younger because pretty much everyone else around me had skipped the queue in society too – give or take. I grew up in the suburbs of South-East England and went to a private school. I grew up in a bubble, one that was never really brought to my attention. I reached out to my friend a while ago, I said to her that although we both spent seven of the same years at the same school, our experiences must be somewhat different. As she was one of the only black students in the school. She explained to me that before she even came to school, her parents taught her to be more ‘polite’. She said she had always been brought up well mannered, yet this did not quite level with what white people would expect. She said to me that there would already be the assumption that she was impolite because of her colour and background. A ten year old was already having to be told that she had to work extra hard to be accepted and seen as worthy – by other ten year olds. I had no idea. She has taught and educated me on so much and still continues to do so.
I initially started trying to write a book about the matter of white privilege, I spent two years on the project. Writing my thoughts down from time to time, then rereading and adjusting them. Understanding the mentality of one who wouldn’t necessarily consider themselves as advantaged despite the whiteness of their skin. It wasn’t until this summer that I realised I no longer liked what I was writing. So, I scrapped it. I thought for weeks thinking of how else I could write, and then I decided to pull my book out from the deleted files on my computer and I started thinking about how I could turn my writing into a blog. Making the tone more conversational and allowing for more interaction, which suddenly all made sense.
I want to clarify that I understand that a lot of what I say might be controversial, I am fully aware of that. I am not trying to understand what it is like to be a person of colour, because that would be insane. I use the word insane because I have never been discriminated politically or socially because of my race. I cannot begin to understand what that is like and I never will. But what I am trying to do is to get deep in the mindset of people like me. I am trying to grasp why so many of us are blindsided to this system of discrimination. Even though the majority of white people are not outspoken racists, staying quiet about the matter is still upholding the system of racial discrimination. If we are aware of our privileges and stay quiet about that blatant fact, then we are basking in our greed and luxuries. We need to speak up and break down the system.
I am not a scholar, I am a student, who studies Media and I am an activist. I want this blog to be a space to educate, inspire and spread awareness. I also want it to be collaborative.
I have already reached out to some of my friends who have inspired me to start this. But if you feel you have something to share, then please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. Everyone is welcome 🙂 For now I am ending this here, but this is just the start of something that is long overdue.