‘You Never Know What You’ve Got ‘Til It’s Gone’

I am a white female. I started dating my boyfriend about a year ago and it really gave me a new perspective on what white privilege is. My boyfriend is black. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a very diverse area and it never really occurred to me before then that dating someone of a different race would turn heads. Just a few days ago my boyfriend and I went bowling (in Harrisonburg). We arrived just the two of us and planned to meet up with friends, at first everything seemed normal but then I realized that it seemed like people were staring at us. As usual, my boyfriend is the only black person in the entire place; this is definitely not the first time this has happened, people have stared, pointed, taken pictures, granted not all the time but enough to matter. These articles really made me think because I can see and understand what it feels like to be looked at and treated differently and wonder, “Is it because my boyfriend is black?” When I’m not with my boyfriend, no one stares. When I’m not with my boyfriend, I don’t have to wonder why someone is looking at me, but he will always be black, so things like that are always in the back of his mind. It’s actually kind of funny because I remember early on in our relationship my boyfriend and I were out somewhere and I said to him I keep catching everyone’s eye. My first thought was is there something on my face or toilet paper on my shoe, but when I mentioned it to my boyfriend he said its probably because we are an interracial couple. This was crazy to me. That is white privilege; being white, I’ve never had to wonder if the way I was being treated or the way I was looked at was because of my skin color. Even things like considering where to live. With graduation approaching my boyfriend and I have spent a lot of time deciding on places where we want to look for jobs and I suggested some southern states like Alabama and Georgia. My boyfriend said he did not want to live in the south because he didn’t want to risk discrimination. That is white privilege. Being white, I never think twice about the states where I can live in and not be discriminated against. Being white, I’ve never had to wonder if people were looking at me or treating me different because of my race.

This week our readings focused on white privilege and the perks that being white has. A few of these readings I have read back in high school and they did not have the impact they have on me today. As a white person, it’s really easy to read these articles and become defensive, but white privilege is not something we are aware of. It’s like the saying ‘you never know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone’. Not in the sense that I have lost white privilege, but in the sense that unless you’re are not white, you don’t know the experiences that others without white privilege face daily.

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