White privilege, and what we’re supposed to do about it

White Privilege
The case of Trayon Martin’s death has caused a national conversation around race. People seem to be polarized in their reactions to the recent verdict, and as such I’d love to avoid more conjecture on that in this post. Rather, I really want to explore some questions about white privilege, since that is a term that has been widely used in the past week, and hopefully shed some light on what it means and what, exactly, we white folk are supposed to do about it.

White privileged is a difficult concept. It can cause a lot of confusion and defensiveness. In the diversity class I teach to graduate students, this topic is more heated than any other topic we touch on. Similarly, this week I’ve seen people pushing back against the idea of white privilege as if it’s an indictment that they are a racist (it’s not.) I even watched a blogger (who is white) criticize my friend Kelly (who is black) for her suggestion that people confront their white privilege. The blogger suggested that Kelly called white people “white supremacists” . . . as if “white privilege” and “white supremacists” were interchangeable terms (they’re not.) Confusion abounds when we talk about white privilege, and I think it’s confusion that often leads to offense at the term.

Simply put, privilege refers to an unearned advantage. It’ usually refers to something inherent . . . something you were born with rather than something you worked for. There are many types of privilege: economic privilege, gender privilege, heterosexual privilege, and of course . . . racial privilege. Racial privilege can take many forms, from minor things to life-threatening things. White privilege can look like being able to grab some shampoo at the grocery store and being confident they carry products for your hair type. White privilege can look like being able to find a band-aid that matches your skin tone. White privilege can look like waling through an upscale residential neighborhood without anyone wondering what you are doing there. White privilege can look like wearing a baseball cap and baggy pants and no one assuming you are a criminal.

Related: Cure for the White Savior Complex – by Shawn Casselberry

At it’s essence, it’s a simple concept:white privilege refers to the both minor and significant advantages that white people hold in American society. But still, people seem to struggle with both believing it exists and figuring out what to do with it. Here are some of the questions I often hear asked about white privilege”

I had a hard time growing up, too. We’ve all had hardships.

Of course we have. The concept of white privilege does not deny individual hardships. Hardships can be circumstantial, they can be born into, they can be at our own doing, or they can be outside of our control. Some hardships, for some people, ae related to race, and those who haven’t experienced those particular race-related hardships hold white privilege. That doesn’t negate the hardships others have faced because racial privilege refers only to race.. It doesn’t mean that Nor do the hardships not related to race negate the very real discriminate some people have faced.

I have a black friend who was raised with way more privilege so how can I be the privileged one?

Again, white privilege only reflects racial privilege. It’s possible for people of other races to hold other kinds of privilege. They don’t negate it other . . .  we’re not playing oppression olympics. When we ignore one form of privilege because another exists, we’re being dismissive. The fact that I’m white does not mean that I don’t sometimes experience sexism. That fact that a black person was born to a well-off family doesn’t mean they never experience racism. Imagine going to your boss to complain about sexual harassment, and being told that it shouldn’t bother you because you have a nice corner office.  When we deny white privilege exists because there are other forms of privilege, we are deflecting a very real issue for some people.

What do they want me to do?

I think that the biggest reason people refuse to acknowledge that there may be some privilege inherent in being white is the fear that it means they owe someone something. I’ve seen a lot of people this week push back against the idea that white privilege exists for political reasons . . . but this isn’t a political or legal concept. I can’t speak for all minorities but for most people I know, the biggest thing they want from me is for me to LISTEN. To hear what their experience is like. To believe them when they describe their own experience.

There is nothing threatening about acknowledging your privilege. Being more empathic to the experiences of others is not a sacrifice to anyone’s politics.

Brave New Films

Am I supposed to feel guilt for stuff I didn’t do?

White privilege is not a value judgment. It’s not meant to be hurled as an insult or use as something to invoke guilt. On the contrary, I think it’s guilt that often compels people to deny that discrimination exists. I’ve seen a few folks make comments about white privilege that infer that it’s a made-up concept by liberals to add more white guilt on ourselves. But self-loathing is not the goal. It’s possible to have a healthy self-concept and racial identity while acknowledging the imbalance of racial privilege. A part of self-worth is acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses. In my experience, bullying and abuse is usually perpetrated by people with a low sense of self. So I think it’s valuable for white Americans to identify what it means to be white: what they like about their own culture and values, and what they want to change.

Also by Kristen: Finding Justice for Trayvon – 7 action steps for our outrage

The only aspect of white privilege that should invoke guilt is if you decide that because you don’t experience racism, that you don’t have to listen or care when other people do.

Owning my white privilege means that I am more empathic, but it also means I can use my privilege to talk about race without being accused of “playing the race card” for self-interest. A person’s political leanings should not effect the empathy and listening ear they extend to others. Similarly, a person’s race should not dictate whether or not they believe the experience of others . . . and allowing our seat at the Majority Table to cloud our empathy (or deny the experience of others) is the crux of what white privilege is about. What to do about it? Start with listening.

To learn more about white privilege, I really recommend reading this insightful checklist from Peggy McIntosh about “Unpacking the Invisible Backpack”.

What is your reaction to the term “white privilege”? Is it confusing . . . comforting . . . guilt-inducing? Do you think it’s politically loaded? Is so, why?

Kristen Howerton is the mom of four children within four years via birth and adoption, and has been blogging at Rage Against the Minivan as a coping skill since 2004. Kristens is also an adjunct professor in the psychology department at Vanguard University, where she teaches on diversity, counseling skills and addictive behaviors. Kristen uses her background as a family therapist to write an advice column for the local family magazine OCFamily and is also a contributing author to The Huffington Post. She likes to waste time on Twitter at @kristenhowerton.

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About the Author

Kristen Howerton

Kristen HowertonKristen Howerton is the mom of four children within four years via birth and adoption, and has been blogging at Rage Against the Minivan as a coping skill since 2004. Kristen is also an adjunct professor in the psychology department at Vanguard University, where she teaches on diversity, counseling skills and addictive behaviors. Kristen uses her background as a family therapist to write an advice column for the local family magazine OCFamily and is also a contributing author to The Huffington Post. She likes to waste time on Twitter at @kristenhowerton.View all posts by Kristen Howerton →

  • John

    Kristen, I’ve been enjoying your writing over the past few months enormously, and just wanted to say this as encouragement to you. I think the comments section can feel like a lonely place sometimes, and I think in a sense, I’ve been waiting for this piece. I had some life-changing but small experiences with race about 15 years ago, and much of what you say speaks to me.

    I was actually just writing on this topic from a totally different perspective, so there is clearly something in the Spirit. Thanks, Kristen, for your heart and for your persistence.

  • Daniel Foster

    Had George Zimmerman NOT been a “White Hispanic” and had there actually been such a thing as White Privilege, would we have ever heard his name and would there have been such a reckless, over-charged trial? Some Privilege that White!

    • Paul Koopman

      This is incoherent, but it looks like your premise is that since GZ was brought to trial, it must mean white privilege doesn’t exist. If that’s what you’re saying, I’m afraid you are simply providing an excellent example of what Kristen is talking about. White privilege doesn’t mean you can’t get charged with murder. But it can mean you’re less likely to be profiled while walking down the street. It can mean you’re less likely to be blamed yourself when you’re the victim of a crime. And of course, it can mean legal charges brought against you are less likely to stick.

      • wjgreen314

        No, that’s a pure Fallacy of Composition error. You can’t extrapolate to every instance from one. But it is curious that the media made up the appellation “WHITE Hispanic” to describe a Peruvian. Have you ever heard Barack Hussein Obama described as a White African? Or perhaps Black Caucasian (dad’s race first, then mom’s)?

        When we learned how DARK and PERUVIAN George’s mother was and how often George helped Blacks the media had to make up and perpetuate lies to continue their false meme. It’s been an instance where White Privilege worked AGAINST George even though he did NOT self-identify as White.

        But I CHALLENGE everyone to take this survey to discover just how biased they are.

        The extent to which people of all color identities think the verdict was unjust and Zimmerman should have been convicted of something is proportional to the number of questions they answer with “NO.”

        www dot dlas dot org/ questions-zimmerman-verdict/

        • Just to be clear, the designation “White Hispanic” has been used for at least the past couple of decades by the census bureau, so it’s quite a stretch to claim that the media “made it up” for this trial.

          • wjgreen314

            Yes, “White Hispanic” has been a census bureau term for some time. When, prior to Zimmerman, did you hear the MEDIA use the term in reference to any Hispanic, say to J.Lo, Antonio Banderas, Sofia Vergara, George Lopez, Shakira, Marc Anthony, Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Ted Cruz, et al?

      • TheodoreSeeber

        Entirely the opposite. Since white privilege exists- GZ was brought to trial.

  • David Dault

    Kristen – thank you for this balanced, insightful post. I have shared it on my facebook wall, and I am certain it will help to generate some vigorous, and much needed, discussions among my many friends across the political spectrum. Thanks again for the excellent post.

  • wjgreen314

    What happens in 2043 to White Privilege? When Caucasians become a numerical minority in the U.S.? Europe and the rest of the world will face a similar demographic change, too. Will privilege disappear once peoples with more melanin gain the numeric advantage? Will we then talk about White Disadvantage or Cocoa Privilege? Isn’t privilege at least partly a function of numeric advantage, democratically if not militaristically?

    Do black and brown people generally regard themselves as genetically inferior due to their greater amount of melanin? Do they suffer generally lower self-esteem because of their visibly darker exterior? I always thought “Black is Beautiful.” Was that a true or false meme Blacks invented?

    Generally, if Blacks and Browns regard themselves currently as inferior to Caucasians is it likely that within a couple generations of becoming numerically greater than Caucasians this inferior self-view will disappear?

    Can’t we all just get along? Are we not all conspecific?

    • Sheryce

      “Do black and brown people generally regard themselves as genetically inferior due to their greater amount of melanin? Do they suffer generally lower self-esteem because of their visibly darker exterior? I always thought “Black is Beautiful.” Was that a true or false meme Blacks invented?”

      Do me a favour. Go to google images and search for “beautiful.” I’ll wait. What you’ll notice is picture after picture of white women (albeit a very specific type of white women, but still). The reason “black is beautiful” is a thing is because our society subtly teaches black isn’t beautiful. It teaches white is normal and beautiful, and anything else is different and wrong. They’ve done studies with young black children who choose white dolls over black dolls. Because that’s what we teach beautiful is.

      “Will privilege disappear once peoples with more melanin gain the numeric advantage?” Privilege isn’t always based on numbers. Look at apartheid. Look at sexism. So no, privilege might not disappear if numbers change.

      “Can’t we all just get along? Are we not all conspecific?” This is a cop-out. People talking about privilege aren’t just creating problems, they’re addressing problems that are real and are hindering equality and “us all getting along.” It’s like me stepping on your foot, refusing to move because no one but you is complaining, then telling you you’re causing conflict and hindering us all getting along when you get upset. The fact is, the idea of “us getting along” is nice, but it’s not going to happen until I get off your foot, and that starts with you pointing out the problem.

      • wjgreen314

        I Googled “Beautiful” as you suggested but did NOT find photos of Caucasian women so much as Mariah Carey lyrics, dictionary definitions, and a reference to a movie directed by Sally Field 13 years ago. Perhaps you could provide a link to the photos of White Women you had in mind.

        Within Hollywood, the world of celebrity-dom, sports and entertainment who’s standing upon whose feet? Within the White House who’s standing upon Barack Hussein Obama’s foot? At the DOJ on Eric “Too Fast & Furious” Holder’s foot?

        We ARE Conspecific. I’m confident demographics WILL change things. Why aren’t you?

        • John

          Google Images is what I’m sure she meant. I assume you didn’t realise that, hence your confusion. The first 15 human images I got were white woman. The 16th, interestingly, was Indian. I’m in the UK. I wonder if that influenced that.

          • wjgreen314

            Perhaps so. This is what I got . . .

            google dot com/ search?q=beautiful&hl=en&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=3gTwUfOzKNPh4AP2_4GgDg&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAQ&biw=1241&bih=619#hl=en&tbm=isch&q=beautiful%20face&revid=597730950&ei=TQbwUdrfDray4APK5YBI&ved=0CA0QsyU&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.49641647%2Cd.dmg%2Cpv.xjs.s.en_US.NyLNrjc7wJY.O&fp=bdd704a7d334ed44&biw=1241&bih=619&imgdii=_

          • Sheryce

            If you google image search ‘beautiful women’ specifically, you’ll see what I mean. Actually, I’m surprised. You used to have to search at least 6 pages to get to at least one Women of Colour (Tyra Banks, I believe it was), and now there are about one a page. But still, far, far, far out numbered by white women.

            “Within Hollywood, the world of celebrity-dom, sports and entertainment who’s standing upon whose feet? Within the White House who’s standing upon Barack Hussein Obama’s foot? At the DOJ on Eric “Too Fast & Furious” Holder’s foot?”

            I don’t mean to be condescending…but did you read Kristen’s article? She addresses this. Just because someone lacks white privilege does not mean they don’t have other privileges (political privilege, economic, etc.). But even the people you listed lack white privilege. For instance, in Hollywood, it is extremely hard for PoC to get parts that are not stereotypes. Watch a movie and count how many PoC you see compared to white people (Hint: counting the PoC will be very easy). Danny Pudi, a Middle Eastern actor in the TV show Community, literally got four parts in a row where his character’s name was Sanjeev. In order to remotely break into the industry he had to play a stereotype over and over. Also, whitewashing is pretty common. In the past year, two major Hollywood blockbusters took iconic non-white roles (Khan in Star Trek, and The Lone Ranger) and gave the parts to white people. You’ll notice this happens all the time to PoC, and almost never is it reversed. There’s a big joke in the Harry Potter movies that Lavendar Brown looks a little different in the sixth movie. The joke is that up until the sixth movie, Lavendar Brown was just an extra, played by a black girl. In the sixth movie Lavendar becomes a pretty important, speaking role. The sixth movie is when the actress is switched to a white girl.

            President Obama faces racism all the time. Remember the giant “birther” movement and the people who continually call him a Muslim or an outright slur? That completely comes out of racism. In fact, that’s a great example of stepping on his foot. No matter what he does or says, he will always be held slightly back by the constant fears that he’s trying to destroy America and he’s secretly a Muslim. Not to mention, there’s the whole out-of-43-presidents-only-one-has-been-a-poc thing. That can’t be discounted either.

            ” At the DOJ on Eric “Too Fast & Furious” Holder’s” I don’t know what this refers to.

            Anyway, as Kristen eloquently explains above, having privilege does not mean you have an easy or perfect life, and lacking privilege in an area does not mean you are not privileged in another area. It’s silly to look at the systematic poverty and racism the black community faces and say because a couple of black people are privileged economically racism is no longer a worry. It is.

            “We ARE Conspecific. I’m confident demographics WILL change things. Why aren’t you?”
            I already explained why demographics do not end privilege. As a Christian, I firmly believe one day the world will exist without privilege. But it won’t happen without Jesus and it won’t happen without us with privilege recognizing it, listening, and attempting to bring true equity and then eventually equality.

          • wjgreen314

            SCOTUS has defined “natural born citizen” – the Constitutional prerequisite for being eligible for the Presidency – as someone born on U.S. soil to TWO (2) U.S. citizen parents, NOT JUST ONE. There are three “types” of citizens: naturalized, legal, and natural born. The Constitution is specific as to the type it requires for eligibility to be POTUS. Has nothing to do with race but where and to whom one is born.

            Demographics and majority-wins voting will diminish if not eliminate White Privilege on or about 2043. Your comparison to S. Africa’s apartheid is NOT apt because prior to apartheid being dismantled they did NOT permit majority-rule voting for all.

            When one studies the number of Caucasians who are unemployed, under-employed, poor, on Welfare, Foodstamps, medicaid, medicare, etc. and compares these current numbers to those prior to 2008, White Privilege begins to seriously disappear. The changes happened primarily under Barack Hussein Obama, a legal citizen of the U.S. but NOT a 19th-century SCOTUS-defined natural born citizen.

          • John

            By the way, I meant to ask, when did this definition of Natural Born citizen get changed? Because this has never been true in the past. A natural born citizen was someone born on US soil OR someone born to ONE US citizen, anywhere in the world. And last I heard, the Supreme Court had never ruled on it. But I don’t live in the US, so I miss things.

            What was the case? When did it happen?

          • wjgreen314

            The Constitution — that precious document Obama placed his hand upon God’s Word and before God and witnesses swore an oath to “preserve, protect, and defend, so help me God” (twice!)– states unequivocally that

            “No person except a natural born Citizen . . . shall be eligible to the Office of President.”

            Article II, Section 1, par. 5

            Back in 1875, the United States Supreme Court, in Minor v Happersett, ruled that:

            “Natural Born Citizen” was defined as children born of two U.S. citizens – regardless of the location of the birth. It found: “The Constitution does not, in words, say who shall be natural-born citizens. Resort must be had elsewhere to ascertain that. At common-law, with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar, it was never doubted that all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also.”

            NOWHERE within the Constitution does it mandate that a candidate release his tax returns, but it does MANDATE that a candidate PROVE s/he is eligible by virtue of being a “natural born citizen.”

          • John

            But you are aware that the definition of Natural Born citizen changed quite some time ago from that ruling, right? In fact, I would assume given the Voting Rights Act was passed, no aspect of Minor v Happersett is still functional law.

          • wjgreen314

            Please give me the name of the SCOTUS case that over-ruled Minor v Happersett. I am unfamiliar with it. Thanks in advance.

          • wjgreen314

            If the role calls for a Middle Eastern character is it NOT better that it is given to someone of Middle Eastern descent rather than a Caucasian made to look Middle Eastern?

            You can’t have it both ways: Complain that someone of a particular ethnicity got a part calling for their ethnicity, and then in another instance complain it was NOT given to someone of the character’s ethnicity but to a Caucasian with makeup to look that ethnicity.

            Celebrate the good and stop complaining about it as if it were bad.

          • John

            The first 43 are white girls, by my count.

      • bluecenterlight

        I googled beautiful. I see your point. But there were way more images of rainbows, flowers, kittens, ocean sunsets, then white women. I think I am more disturbed that our concept of beauty is not only from a white perspective, but a white 13 year old girl perspective :)

    • bluecenterlight

      Merriam- Webster dictionary


      dirty, soiled, characterized by the absence of light, reflecting or transmitting little or no light, thoroughly sinister or evil, indicative of condemnation or discredit, connected with or invoking the supernatural and especially the devil, very sad, gloomy, or calamitous, marked by the occurrence of disaster, characterized by hostility or angry discontent, characterized by grim, distorted, or grotesque satire


      free from color, of the color of new snow, marked by upright fairness, free from spot or blemish, not intended to cause harm

      • wjgreen314

        Why did Blacks change their appellation from Negro to Black given that dictionary definition?

        • bluecenterlight

          That’s a good question.

        • John

          Don’t you think every re-identification is simply an effort to get away from the associations with the history of that term?

          • wjgreen314

            So why didn’t Negroes STOP with African American then? Why did they push it to Black?

          • John

            I thought it was the other way around.

  • otrotierra

    Kristen, many thanks for all your thoughtful posts here at RedLetterChristians. I look forward to more contributions.

  • Chris93

    Kristen, enjoyed your post and perspective.

    I want to take issue, a bit, on your examples of “white privilege” in hopes to make a point.

    You state, “Simply put, privilege refers to an unearned advantage. It’ usually refers to something inherent . . . something you were born with rather than something you worked for.”

    The first two examples you provide are interesting to me.

    “White privilege can look like being able to grab some shampoo at the grocery store and being confident they carry products for your hair type. White privilege can look like being able to find a band-aid that matches your skin tone.”

    Now, I know you are trying to put these two on the “minor” end of the spectrum, but they do highlight the a point I hope to make.

    For instance, the bandages. Perhaps years ago this might hold water for
    an example, but today? As a mom of kids you certainly are aware “hiding” bandages is not what it used to be. After all, we can get Dora or Scooby or Batman on our bandages. Even camouflage! So instead of hiding our bandages, we are making them more noticeable!

    Not to mention, this is an issue of vanity over advantage. Does the bandage still
    work despite it not matching my skin tone?

    And unless you have a weird skin color – the bandage doesn’t match a white person’s skin either!
    I put one on my finger, people are still going to notice it.

    Thus, I find this example a bit odd. And I will get to why in a second…

    “White privilege can look like waling through an upscale residential neighborhood without anyone wondering what you are doing there.”

    In my neighborhood every type of person, race, dress, you name it walks down my street.
    I’ve seen suits, baggy pants, zombies, even Packer Fans. I’ve seen people of every race, nationality, skin tone, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

    Guess what I haven’t seen – an Amish person.

    Now, if I did see an Amish person walk down my street, I would wonder what they were doing there. And while the ground upon which my house stands used to be farmland, it is now part of the city…far from Amish country.

    But even so, is it really and advantage to NOT have someone question why you are in a particular spot.

    Did I chalk it up to “black privilege” when the cops were following me (a young white male) through a neighborhood that many white people don’t visit? I bet they were wondering what I was doing there.

    “White privilege can look like wearing a baseball cap and baggy pants and no one assuming you are a criminal.”

    This one, goes a bit beyond skin color. Especially a specific look. A look that is glorified via movies, music, etc. much of which promotes a criminal lifestyle. More and more that is changing, and kids are just choosing to dress that way to “fit in” etc…however, to forget where the
    look comes from is to ignore is to take the issue out of context.

    Like I stated before, I see every manner of dress cross in front of my front door – I don’t think twice about them. However, if I saw a clown walk by – and it’s not Halloween nor is there a circus in town…that might draw my attention. Would I think they were a criminal? Probably, not…but child molester might cross my mind, as well as many other things! It’s what we do…when something is out of place, we wonder why.

    What I’m getting at is simply this: context.

    And I don’t feel your example of white privilege account for that at all. Not
    one example you provide HAS to be because of white privilege…yet, you cite it as an example as such.

    A true privilege as you say, has an advantage. But none of the examples are really an advantage.


    Stores carry what sells. Not to mention, what one store doesn’t sell others might, to get customers that wouldn’t normally shop there for any number of reasons.

    So I don’t feel you actually made the case for “white privilege.” I see broad
    examples that lack real context, and that make race more important than the

    It almost seems you are searching for it…

    I agree with you on this: “What to do about it? Start with listening.”

    However, I disagree on “why” we should listen. We shouldn’t listen because
    someone is a different race/color/ethnicity from us…we should listen because we
    are children of God.

    This post, as I read it, does more to highlight differences than it does similarities. Differences are great! Interesting!

    However, it’s not what binds people together.

    Go to a sporting event. You see a wide array of “different” people coming together. Not because they are different, but because they have a common interest.

    My neighbor and I get along because of our similarities – one them being we are both Christians. What doesn’t bring us together is our difference in skin color. He’s black, I’m white. In fact, I don’t care what his skin color is, he’s a great neighbor no matter what color he is! And I listen to his stories – not because he’s black, but because he’s my neighbor and I love him.

    So truly, if we are to move on from race and racial issues, we have to stop defining people by their race and move deeper to their core being.

    American History X, the movie, shows us this. Ed Norton’s character doesn’t
    change his racist beliefs because he’s told about the differences of blacks (he knows them already! and that’s what pushes him in that direction to begin with) but when he slowly realizes that he has far more in common with a fellow human being and skin color is, in the end, truly meaningless. (I believe one conversation, a turning point one, is one over sports even!)

    But no doubt, if we go looking for white/black privilege…we’re destined to find it…but to what end and for what purpose? Why should we search out what makes us different versus what makes us the same?

    Look at the Zimmerman case – it was about a “white-Hispanic” killing a “black.” Not a tragedy involving two people. More people cared about the color of the skin of the people involved than what actually happened. To me, that’s very sad.

    So, yes, let us listen to each other. But not BECAUSE of our “privilege”, but because we truly care about one another. And let us search for the common ground upon which we walk to bind us, and just let the differences decorate the path.

    • Frank


    • I think your response was a pretty textbook example of dismissing and deflecting, as opposed to listening and understanding.

      • 22044

        Huh? I thought Chris’ comment had some great points.
        It seems like you’re more interested in giving a lecture than having a dialogue. You want people to listen and be empathetic? Maybe that starts with you.
        I thought your post might have some good points. But your reply to Chris perhaps means that there are more things for you to understand.

        • Drew

          Unfortunately when Kristen gets into the comment section, she rarely engages with a commenter but instead posts a one or two sentence defensive piece of snark. Must make her feel better, but I don’t see it continuing any conversations.

          • 22044

            I see.
            I’m a bit of a recovering academic, so I sometimes see instances of what I’m trying to move away from in other academics.
            If that’s how blog writers like to respond, that’s fine, but it blunts points they make that might otherwise be appreciated.

        • I’m not interesting in giving a lecture – my goal here was to encourage white people (including myself) to consider how we can listen to the experiences of others. If someone’s response to that is to then dismiss the examples of both micro and macro aggressions towards black people by telling them the things they experience aren’t really true or a big deal, I don’t see how to dialogue that. (Beyond pointing out how it’s a symptom of the larger problem: white people explaining away the concerns of people of color.)

          • 22044

            I appreciate your response. But Chris93 laid out his POV, which resonates with many (he received quite a few up votes), backed it up with examples as well, and did so with a fair-minded tone. I didn’t gather the conclusions that you appear to have done so.
            Perhaps your experience & study doesn’t reconcile with his, but dialogue like this might be tough because the subject is a sensitive matter. I’ve got my experiences as well (which I think may be helpful for many), but they certainly aren’t the arbiter of how to examine this issue.
            I might also be biased toward his comments because he concludes with pointing back to the One who makes progress & reconciliation possible. I’m guessing you want those things as well.
            I apologize for misspelling your name, by the way.

          • Frank

            So just because I am white I cannot speak about other races? Doesn’t that just separate us further? Aren’t we all in this together?

      • Chris93

        Could you please expound on that? I admit, if we look for privileges we can find them – but to what end? For what purpose? As you admit, we all have different backgrounds and challenges (privileges aside). Should I not just listen to my neighbor because he’s a person, not just because he’s black and I have experienced white privilege over the years?

        Nor do I see your examples as white privilege in all contexts…Certainly, I know and understand that my neighbor has experienced racism – we’ve talked about them. Including harassment from those of his own race!

        Unfortunately, you do not know me so while you disagree with my perspective, to say I’m dismiss and deflect are judgements from ignorance about me.

        I don’t have to “know” and “accept” my white privileges to be empathetic toward people – I can be empathetic toward people because I love them.

        I challenged your examples of “white privilege” because in my everyday life where I work with a variety of people (races, gender, sexual identity, mental health, and economic status) in many different areas (mostly in low income areas), please do not even hint to say that I don’t listen or understand what people have gone through and are currently going through.

        To do so, it to not listen – after all, you didn’t bother to ask why I answered the way I did, just jumped to a conclusion…

        • Anna

          This white privilege idea is very akin to being born a man which used to be and still is a privilege in most parts of the world. If as a woman, being a mother or having just given birth might hurt my career chances, the man I’m explaining this reality to, has to first acknowledge he doesn’t have to go through that because he’s a man. Him sitting there and telling me that he’s able to understand what I’m saying, just because he’s as human as me, just shows him not understanding the issue. As a black person, the white friends I’m the closest to are the ones don’t use the colorblindness fallacy. Yes, I know we’re all Christian brethren, that our blood is the same color but please don’t pretend that we aren’t different because you’ve decided to ignore how different I’m from you. Acknowledging differences, privileges is not a bad thing: it’s facing the truth.

      • RATM fan

        Kristen, wow. I usually find myself on the exact same page as you 100% of the time. But the way you have been responding to respectful, thoughtful commenters who present differing points of view lately has been making me cringe. No matter how much authority on a topic you may claim, the possibility does exist that you may not always be right, all of the time. Listen with empathy? Aren’t those your words? A little humility would go a long way.

        • I gave four examples of white privilege that I’ve heard POC reference: two minor, two major. In his comment, he systematically dismisses each of these as legitimate frustrations, does he not? I am not always right by any means. but I do try to let people speak their experience without saying “Nope, that shouldn’t bother you. Here’s why.” That’s what I felt this comment did, and I would hope that if a POC actually spoke some of their experiences of racism, that their experience wouldn’t be met with this kind of dismissal. It’s not about ME being right . . . it’s about considering that just because we don’t experience something doesn’t mean it isn’t true for others.

          • P.S. I don’t disagree that the comment was thoughtful. But I found it incredibly dismissive, especially in regards to the very real and well-documented experiences of black men feeling like they are suspects in many contexts. Comparing that to being Amish? I can’t even.

          • RATM fan

            I think there is a possibility that if you reread his post with a more objective frame of mind, you could interpret it as him wondering whether or not these experiences, while legitimate and real, are accurate examples of white privilege, and not him dismissing or deflecting the experiences themselves.

            It is possible for others who hold a different POV from you (and I for that matter) to have great empathy, the desire to listen and extend compassion, graciously allowing themselves to be changed by the experiences of others, and feel anger on behalf of those who experience racial injustice and mistreatment in this country, while simultaneously not necessarily ascribing to a belief in either the concept of white privilege, the concept as you have defined and described it, or the legitimacy of the examples that you have provided.

      • SamHamilton


        I thought Chris made some decent points. And I think it’s shame you say it’s a “textbook example of dismissing and deflecting” without talking about what bothers you about his response. It sounds like he spent time reading and thinking about your blog post and was respectful enough to write a lengthy response. And then you dismiss his response with one sentence. Who’s the one exemplifying listening and understanding here?

        Just because someone doesn’t agree with you doesn’t mean he is dismissing your thoughts. He did the opposite of dismissing. He engaged your thoughts and was respectful. You’re the one who is showing dismissal here.

        That being said, I greatly appreciated your original blog post. I thought it was helpful in thinking about the privileges I enjoy living in America as a white male.

      • Phil Ford

        Wow! Talk about being dismissive!

    • John

      I have a friend who used to be seconded to the US Marshalls in Oakland, California. He dealt with drug-related crime, mostly involving Black Americans, a lot. We were talking about it once and he said, “We know where they are. We could find them whenever we want.” He then went on to explain that their experience was that if they went and got the big dope dealer du jour, another would just take his place. So, that neighbourhood was left to its own devices, and as you can imagine, was basically policed by drug dealers, creating an atmosphere of despair and self-destruction. When the drug dealers moved their business into more affluent neighbourhoods, that’s when the Marshalls would get involved.

      White privilege can sometimes mean that the law that is supposed to protect everyone actually does protect you.

      • 22044

        I agree with your last sentence. In a better society, laws intended to protect should accomplish that for everyone.
        I’m not interested in defending cops, but how do you handle a neighborhood where there’s very little going on except drug dealing? People have a right to expect law, order, & safety to prevail in their neighborhoods. On the other hand, people also criticize the war on drugs and the high rates of recidivism.
        A good law may work on paper, but people doing evil things with no accountability may deprive others of the protection they should have

        • John

          I wonder in a very bad neighbourhood, how many people are actually doing the bad? I’m a secondary school teacher, and in the worst classes, about 8 out of 30 kids are causing trouble. And it’s usually 4. And there’s usually 1 or 2 leaders. I know it’s not completely comparable, but classroom’s are sometimes interesting models for society as a whole. I wonder if anyone has looked into this.

      • Chris93

        I’m not saying this doesn’t happen.

        In my neighborhood, the first week I moved in – there was a drive by. For three years there were abandoned houses, near the high school, that were being used by gangs for various reasons: including drugs. I can see the high school from my front yard, BTW.

        A lot has changed since then, and the neighborhood is much better.

        In fact, during that first year, my mother was trying to get us to move out. I told her, “I love the neighborhood for what it offers. Nothing will change if we leave.”

        And we are not, nor were we, an affluent neighborhood. We are blue collar, middle class, making ends meet folks.

        Now, unfortunately what you described does happen. I never said it doesn’t. But my owning “white privilege” doesn’t change it. Nor, does it change my empathy for people in those neighborhoods. And just ignoring everything else that goes into a situation like that, does more harm than good.

        But again, if we go out looking for it – privileges, etc. – we will find it. But to what end? i don’t believe Kristen’s posts answers that. Her solution was to listen – which I agree. But I should be doing that anyway, and more(!) if I am a follower of Jesus.

        • John

          I think there is a holistic perspective which is difficult to get at. You take my friend’s Oakland neighbourhood, add to it the response after Hurricane Katrina, mix it with what probably to many feels like yet another black kid getting killed with no consequence in Florida, and you have a section of society which feels it is treated differently because it is treated differently. You have a lot of people who feel disengaged from the system, and who feels the system is not apathetic, but actually actively against them.

          And one of the useful things you can do, to take ownership of white privilege, is not turn to black people and say, “Well, sorry. It’s your problem. It’s your fault.” Because responsibility is important, but it’s not the owners of the system who should be preaching responsibility, because that’s like Lucy telling Charlie Brown to try to kick the ball again.

          • Chris93

            I agree we shouldn’t say, “It’s your problem. It’s your fault.”

            Certainly people feel the system has failed or sucks or is unjust…of course it is! The system is made up of sinful imperfect people. that is a sad fact of life and it doesn’t effect everyone equally.

            My noticing my white skin in the morning though, won’t change it. Action and love will DESPITE of my or my neighbor’s skin color.

          • John

            I think the argument behind white privilege is that noticing your privilege spurs action. As someone else said, it can be like The Good Samaritan. Your motivation and feeling for your own self-righteousness is no good if the guy is still in the ditch.

            Show me your faith without works…

            If you feel a greater sense of responsibility for a situation, not guilt, but responsibility, that might be the extra push needed to cause you to act.

          • Chris93

            Fine, however my position is that I don’t need to notice my “privilege” to know something is wrong, unjust, or unfair…to spur to action and help others.

            If some do, fine. But i believe that if we truly care for one another, it would be a moot point. We will act because we LOVE, not because we realize that sometimes we get an advantage now and again.

          • Chris93

            Nor do I believe others need to notice “privilege” either. I’m guessing, most people notice when things aren’t right, self reflection is not needed. Love and action is.

          • John

            I totally agree with your second point. I actually think we generally agree on this. There’s just a question of how to connect the dots from A to B.

          • Chris93

            Ah the paths…but yes John we are seeing the same “goal” as it were from different angles. Which is great! It’s what is needed for sure, for there is no one right answer (outside of Jesus, of course) to these issues…good talking to you.

          • John

            Thanks for the conversation, Chris. :)

    • Vacant Horizon

      See my reply below.

  • Hans

    I also teach Pluralism and Diversity courses in the NYC area. McIntosh, though excellent in its time, is becoming dated. IMO the most up to date writing is Elijah Anderson’s Cosmopolitan Canopy. My strongest antithesis to this posting, is that while the discussion should be apolitical, and is certainly partially true to degree with this particular treatment of the topic, politicking is very much a part of using race for vote-getting from all sides of the fence, and it enrages the discussion beyond where it should go.

  • Dennis L

    I think both sides are very dishonest and until we can point that out without getting labeled a racist, it’s not going to change.

    • I think if we focus on the ways our own “side” is lacking, we can avoid the labels.

  • gradworker

    Thank you for this. I have had past traumatic incidents of what could be termed forced white guilt…it put me eternally on the defensive, especially as I live in an area where I’m a minority and sometimes receive the brunt of my African-American neighbors’ deep laden frustration with oppressive structures . Slowly, the Holy Spirit has been gently calling me to unfurl my fists and simply listen and breathe. This is a wonderful article that addresses some of my former resistance to listening, receiving, and acting on these forces of oppression.

  • Frank

    How about we all focus on our attitudes on entitlement? This will take care of the problem without having to inject race into the issue and further polarize us. If all of us (white, black, Asian, Indian, African, European, etc.) would understand that we are entitled to nothing we wouldn’t be whining or complaining as much. Then we would look at what we have as a blessing instead of focusing on what we don’t have and be miserable and divisive.

    • John

      Yes. If the top 20% of the US population didn’t feel they were entitled to 93% of the US’s wealth, I’m sure that would solve a number of problems. If the 10 richest Americans didn’t feel they were entitled to as much wealth as the poorest 1 BILLION people on the planet, that would solve a number of problems.

      Fortunately, they have lots of leisure time to get their camels through those needles.

      • Frank

        I agree and if those that have less didn’t feel entitled to have more too we would solve the problem. But we can only control ourselves no matter how much wealth we have.

        • John

          Isn’t that an easier statement to make from a position of material comfort?

          • Frank

            Maybe but its no less true. If everyone was satisfied with what they have we could eliminate greed. People who have nothing can still be greedy. Its a heart issue.

          • John

            I think if you look at Jesus’ comments about the rich and poor, you’ll find that he is not even-handed. Jesus doesn’t say, “Both of these people have problems”, does he? The rich will struggle to enter heaven. The poor are rich in faith. Blessed are those who hunger. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. If you have a feast, invite the poor. Yes, he does tell the poor to be content, but he also time and again tells those with to share what they have, and isn’t part of bringing the Kingdom to try to fulfil these commands? Isn’t Jesus telling the rich to not be satisfied with what they have, but in fact to give up much of what they have?

          • Frank

            “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” Luke 12:15

            19 x“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where ymoth and rust5 destroy and where thieves zbreak in and steal, 20 xbut lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

            Matthew 6:19-21

            These are messages to all of us.

          • John

            I would never claim that greed is acceptable. But do you think Jesus’ message to the rich is exactly the same as his message to the poor?

          • Frank

            Regarding material wants and possessions yes it is. The evils of greed and jealousy, not being thankful and satisfied for what you have and to trust God to take care of your physical needs is a message to all.

  • bluecenterlight

    The discussion of white privilege reminds me of the parable of the good Samaritan. We are two people having a conversation who pass the man bloody in the ditch. One person says, I didn’t rob him, I didn’t beat him up, I’m not responsible for his condition. The other says, I am so much better than you because I feel so bad for that man. I have more compassion than you could ever hope to have. All the while the man is still in the ditch. Hmmm.

    • Drew

      Definitely liked this post. Thank you.

      • bluecenterlight


    • 22044


  • kc

    Hi Kristen, I applaud you for bringing this much needed discussion to the forefront, however so incredibly sad that it’s spurred by such tragedy. While I totally agree with your sentiments and the contrasting sentiment of white privilege — I do think the term “White privilege” is an inverted misnomer in this particular context, as privilege generally confers a negative, extreme of unfair entitlements that a few elite undeservingly benefit from, that in the best interest of everyone should be withdrawn and stripped away because they don’t benefit society as a whole; — whereas white privilege entitlements convey customary standards that all human beings regardless of race and class should count on and enjoy as basic human rights entitled to all peoples. The emphasis, rather than being a sense of privilege, should thus be rightfully cast on what it truly is — racial discrimination and the substandard rights and treatment that Black people (and many minorities –thinking Muslims also) face every. single. day.


  • Wonderbread

    Thank you for this article. I am a white male that lives in a South Florida. I agree with this article, but I never knew there was a term for the state of my race. I never knew about white privilege. I also am encouraged to own up to my identity because it can help me love others. Don’t hide from the truth, be honest and admit it.

  • wjgreen314

    Left vs Right. Passive vs Proactive. Passive Aggressive vs Criminal Aggression

    Left: He was victimized
    Right: He victimized that young wo/man

    Left: It happened again to another Black man
    Right: He Ground and Pounded another person mercilessly

    Left: He was killed
    Right: He assault and battered that person and his victim returned lethal force in self-defense

    Left: He was walking home
    Right: He punched him in the nose and threatened great bodily harm or death

    Left: The system is to blame
    Right: He broke the law and the Justice system punished him

    Left: Blacks are disproportionately incarcerated
    Right: Blacks commit a disproportionate share of all crimes

    Left: He was railroaded and copped a plea
    Right: He chose not to fight for his innocence in a court of law before a jury

    Left: Bad things happen to Blacks
    Right: Blacks do bad things

    Left: He was a victim of racism
    Right: By his violent actions he further solidified both the fact and perception that Blacks commit a number of crimes well above their proportion in the population.


    “Do you know that Negroes are 10 percent of the population of St. Louis and are responsible for 58% of its crimes? We’ve got to face that. And we’ve got to do something about our moral standards.

    “We know that there are many things wrong in the white world, but there are many things wrong in the black world, too. We can’t keep on blaming the white man. There are things we must do for ourselves.”

    — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking to a congregation in 1961.

    Read BLACK, highly intelligent and educated Jason Riley’s piece in the Wall Street Journal, “Race, Politics and the Zimmerman Trial” to get a sense of what thoughtful, non race-baiting Blacks are saying.

    online dot wsj dot com/ article/SB10001424127887323394504578608182550247030 dot html

  • Chris93

    To those with the encouraging words: thank you.

  • Tom

    Thank you for this. I accept that white privilege exists and I also have genuine questions about it. For example, why is it called privilege? In the article you say “Simply put, privilege refers to an unearned advantage.” and I can understand that. But then you go on to say that

    “White privilege can look like being able to find a band-aid that matches your skin tone. White privilege can look like walking through an upscale residential neighborhood without anyone wondering what you are doing there. White privilege can look like wearing a baseball cap and baggy pants and no one assuming you are a criminal.”

    To me, the things you have listed should not be seen as privileges but as normal. I want to fight for a world where everyone has those things. Perhaps it is the way I think of the idea of privilege, but usually the word seems to about something people have which they shouldn’t. Would it be wrong to say that what we have is not so much White privilege but Black disadvantage? However I know that means assuming the White experience is the ‘norm’ which we should aspire to for everyone else and that seems patronising. Any help in thinking these things through?

  • wjgreen314

    What Has Juror B29 et al taught U.S.?

    America needs a POTUS, CONGRESS, SCOTUS, and State and Local Governments just like the six great women that comprised the the Zimmerman jury. They had hearts that felt the pain of the loss of a 17 year old young man BUT they rendered a verdict according the the Letter of the Law, pain notwithstanding.

    The Zimmerman jury is a model for U.S. all, including and especially our highest elected leaders who get paid a great deal more than the jurors did, and need to take a page, indeed the entire Constitution, from this jury’s deliberations. In their heart of hearts they wanted to find Zimmerman guilty of something because it was crystal clear he shot and killed Trayvon. But they read, re-read, and read again the Justifiable Homicide law by reason of Self-Defense and knew in their rational and just minds they could not convict George because the letter of the law stated that since Mr. Zimmerman was placed in danger and reasonable fear of great bodily harm or death by the commission of a felony against him, he was justified in returning force up to and including lethal force.

    It may be worth crying and agonizing over but by their verdict the jury of six great American women did America proud because, as even law-breaking Barack Hussein Obama stated, “we are a nation of laws.”

    And therefore everyone, from the lowliest pedestrian to the POTUS himself, must subordinate their feelings and rule in accordance with the great and just laws of our land; feelings to the contrary be damned!

    2,000+ year old Classic Self-Defense is a Just, Good, Necessary and Virtuous law that must be upheld and safeguarded or else the bad guys will always win in fights that threaten to inflict great bodily harm or death.

    Justifiable Homicide by reason of Self-Defense means that some of U.S. will get away with murder in defense of our well-being and life.

    youtu dot be/ vIconLG_9J0?t=32s


  • Chris93

    At risk of being offensive, I have to say, Kristen – that while
    you may have read the words of my post, I believe you have failed to understand
    what I was saying, so here I will try to clarify my points.

    By evidence of your not understanding my post is this by
    you: “’m not interesting in giving a lecture – my goal here was to encourage
    white people (including myself) to consider how we can listen to the
    experiences of others. If someone’s response to that is to then dismiss the
    examples of both micro and macro aggressions towards black people by telling
    them the things they experience aren’t really true or a big deal, I don’t see
    how to dialogue that.”

    Where did I dismiss?
    Over and over again I said “YES!” We can find privilege if we look for
    it. What I disagreed with were YOUR
    examples, specifically. They were too
    broad, in my opinion – to which I tried to illustrate specific examples and
    reasons why what you posted is not NECESSARILY “white privilege.”

    Nor, did I dismiss “aggressions”. With coworkers and friends I have heard of
    the racism they have endured. True
    racism. Not just not being able to find
    bandages that match their skin tone.

    Rather than replying to me or still yet ASKING for clarification, you talk about me such as:

    “I gave four examples of white privilege that I’ve heard POC
    reference: two minor, two major. In his comment, he systematically dismisses
    each of these as legitimate frustrations, does he not?”

    Again, not asking for clarification on my point of
    view. Not addressing the actual person. And that’s fine, I’m not mad that you haven’t or didn’t. It surprises me though, especially in such an important dialogue that instead of addressing concerns you may have, you assume and judge.

    Yes, I disagree with your GENERAL and BROAD examples. You offered two specifics. Bandages and
    shampoo. As I guy, I won’t speak to
    shampoo, I don’t care about it. But
    bandages? Sorry, I’ll stand by my
    position. It’s one of vanity. Frustrating as it may be, if the bandage
    works, what’s the real issue? Now, this
    is coming from a guy that has used a napkin and tape as a bandage on a finger
    and went out in public with it. So, no,
    I am not every empathetic that a person is concerned about the color of their
    bandage or how it looks on them. I’m not a fashion, guy and couldn’t care less really how I look in public.

    What you missed Kristen was my point and you still haven’t
    asked for clarification.

    So I’ll tell you my points again.

    examples lack CONTEXT. They are too
    general. I showed through alternative,
    specific, examples of how your examples don’t necessarily work.

    This is not dismissive, Kristen, this is highlighting that
    context is necessary in discussions such as these. It is imperative that we don’t just use broad
    strokes as if they are the rule. As I
    stated, all manner of dress and people walk by my house. So to actually see
    anything odd or anyone who wouldn’t normally be there is difficult. And if I were to see someone out of place in
    my neighborhood it WOULD draw my attention.

    Now, again to show that you didn’t understand what I wrote
    and appear to just be reacting, you say this:

    “P.S. I don’t disagree that the comment was thoughtful. But
    I found it incredibly dismissive, especially in regards to the very real and
    well-documented experiences of black men feeling like they are suspects in many
    contexts. Comparing that to being Amish? I can’t even.”


    Humor, Kristen. It
    was humor. I was trying to make a point
    by being a bit over the top. The point
    being: what is out of the ordinary catches our attention. So if a hooded kid with baggy pants catches
    someone’s attention in an affluent neighborhood. Perhaps it’s simply because not many kids
    where that in that neighborhood. Not
    because of “white privilege.” After all,
    are there not black people in affluent neighborhoods too?

    I like to use humor sometimes. Life doesn’t always need to be so serious.

    I agree, racism and profiling happen…the people I work with
    LIVE with this everyday. My job, I see
    stigma everyday. I hear racism. I hear stories of abuse and neglect. I hear stories of shame because of sexual
    orientation…My neighbor knows me well enough and trust me that he can share
    with me his stories of the racism (even from his own race) that he has endured
    and knows that I WILL LISTEN and EMPATHISE with him because I do. I do because I love him. NOT because I’m white and have been
    privileged in some areas.

    And I disagree with you, yes, that finding and focusing on
    these racial privileges will bring us together.
    If you can show me how, I would love to see it. I showed you examples of different people
    coming together despite past, race, religion, etc.

    Believe it or not Kristen, I am perfectly fine with what I
    said. Because I know my heart and who I
    am and what I have experienced and what the people I work with have
    experienced. You can call me dismissive,
    but everyday I help fight what you think I dismiss.

    I don’t need to be
    white/black/red or yellow to understand a persons pain or an injustice they
    have gone through. It’s not
    necessary. All that’s needed is
    love. The love that Jesus offers us.

    I fail to see how highlighting our differences, especially
    skin color, is going to bring us together.
    It’s highlighting our commonalities that will do it, I believe. And then we can let our differences decorate
    those relationships and perhaps enhance them.

    When I look across the fence, I don’t see my “black”
    neighbor. Nor do I EVER refer to him as
    that, it’s irrelevant. He’s my
    neighbor. My friend and I love him as a
    brother in Christ.

    By all means, go look for race privileges if that is your
    thing…and you will find it. But again,
    to what end?

    I just wish you would have addressed and asked me directly rather than talking around me. Maybe then you would have understood my post better.

    • Chris93

      (sorry if it posted funny…failed to edit my cut and paste!)

    • Vacant Horizon

      White privilege is what’s allowing you to make these naive comments. It’s quite insidious and very hard to see if your not open to it. My suggestion to you would be to find a person of color, ask him/her to tell their experience of racism and not say a thing except thank you. Listen to what the person says and reflect. You might come to see that even your dismissal of the band aid issue is white privilege.

      • Chris93

        This comment leads me tombelive you didn’t read my post closely…where you missed reading that I have and do. But I appreciate your suggestion as I agree! We should all ask about one another’s problems and troubles not just racially either.

        • Vacant Horizon

          You’re still dismissing all of this. I read your post and its a bunch of nonsense. You need to listen, not complain that no one is listening to you.

          It’s tough. I was angry and scared when my privilege was brought o my attention. The more layers I become aware of, however, the more free I am.

          Incidentally, my experience as a psychologist just listening to Black folks’ experience and beliving the is what changed and continues to change me. God bless these humans who are redeeming me! That’s radical Jesus stuff. We all need liberation, the oppressed and the oppressor.

          • 22044

            Can you make your points without saying someone else is dismissive? Your experience is certainly yours, but it may not be for others, and may not even be supposed to be for others.

          • Chris93

            You’re throwing “dismissing” around rather than “disagree.”

            Not once, in any of my posts will you find that I say “white privilege” doesn’t happen. Not once.

            In fact, you will find that I agree it DOES exist. And if we go looking for it, we will find it! You will only find me saying that.

            However, I do DISAGREE that it is needed, necessary, or even fruitful that I must 1) own said privilege to be able to love and listen to someone about what they have gone through, 2) that focusing on the differences of each other actually BRINGS us closer together.

            No where in any of these posts have I seen a good argument that says I cannot love someone as much as I could UNLESS and ONLY If I “own” my white privilege…

            To that I say: why stop there?

            What about the other privileges…economical, gender, sexual identity, and the list can go on and on….

            You want to focus on our differences? Go ahead!

            I’d rather focus on our similarities. Mainly: we are children of God.

            You show me where Jesus tells us to worry and think about our differences OVER just loving each other…then you got my attention.

            But I appreciate your thoughts. You don’t know me, you don’t know my heart. You don’t know what I see, hear, experience, on a daily basis…I too work in the mental health field…one on one with people, I see on a daily basis more than just racism my friend. I see bigotry and stigma and all manner of prejudice…

            I know my heart and God does too. And while I appreciate your thoughts and insight…I’ll leave the ultimate decision about that to him…

          • Grace

            Chris – I appreciate your Christian perspective – I’m a follower of Jesus too. I believe at the heart of all problems is a lack of faith and dependence on Jesus.

            It’s because I believe you are well intentioned (and so is Kristen) that it saddens me to see how mutual understanding is not happening.

            I don’t know if I can clarify things. When you said you disagreed with her POV (that YOU don’t need to be aware of privilege to love; that you would rather focus on commonality than differences) – I believe that’s your sincere experience and preference.

            Perhaps why other people perceived your POV as “dismissive” is because they didn’t hear you acknowledge that other people may need awareness of priviledge to move THEM to changing their behavior. If you’re not part of the dominant group (not just based on race, but say even introverts, or those who have a unique thinking style) focusing on commanilities doesn’t give them enough opportunity to celebrate their difference.

            You have your experience, others have theirs. Let’s just accept that difference, and focus on being curious about each other’s point of view.

            Blessings to all!

          • Chris93

            No complaints from me about not being heard…never an expectation from me, ever. She didn’t have to reply to me, nor was I expecting it. She did though. And she misunderstood me, as you have as well. So, if someone doesn’t understand my point, such as you or Kristen, why wouldn’t I try to clarify?

            And, yes, I did find it interesting that she felt free enough to talk ABOUT me, but not TO me. Not a complaint, observation. Hope that helps. Thanks for your insight and replies.

      • Chris93

        So as not to miss a possible opportunity. If you have something to share, a personal story or one you know of from a friend, please share it.

      • Vacant Horizon

        We’re talking past other so I’ll move on with this. If I am not aware of my privilege and use ‘focusing on similarities’ as my MO, then I am ignoring/dismissing the causal effects of said privilege (gender, skin color ect.). So that’s why it’s important to acknowledge and be aware of. This knowledge is liberating.

        In other words, trying to be color blind ignores and perpetuates the atrocities of racism. Active awareness is the beginning of any real change. It’s the toughest work I’ve ever done and communicating it is even tougher.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    I’m white, but if I was born with any privilege whatsoever it has yet to manifest in my life at all. That’s likely due to the fact that I also have autism, and see the world *very* differently than privileged white women neurotypical college professors do.

    But I found this line particularily ironic:

    “White privilege is not a value judgment. It’s not meant to be hurled as an insult or use as something to invoke guilt.”

    When this entire article is indeed a value judgement, being hurled as an insult, used to invoke guilt.

  • johannesarcher

    By using this term, doesnt that make you a racist by meaning other colours have to earn the entitlement ? as, “Simply put, privilege refers to an unearned advantage.”

  • Chris93

    Well, I asked my neighbor about my “white privilege” and bandages.

    He exonerated me of my privileges, that is, he said I didn’t have to own them – whatever they are, he really couldn’t think of any that I had…Nor did he agree with the assertions that I HAD to own them to help society move forward and combat racism…he seemed to think we shouldn’t care about the person’s skin color, but about the person.

    He also said that he didn’t care what bandages he had or used. And he even stated too that unless someone had funky skin color, the “white” bandages don’t really match either.

    So there you have it. I asked, I listened, I am now reporting.

    And just to clarify in case someone missed it – my neighbor is black.

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