I’m the first to admit that white privilege is everywhere. It is not something I’m proud of, but it’s all around us. Whether in politics, businesses, or in our personal lives- it’s there. As Americans we pride ourselves in being diverse and we are known as “the great melting pot”. We love to throw around the term “The American Dream”. Whether we are aware of it or not, I think it’s safe to say that The American Dream is becoming more and more unattainable due to social constructs set forth by society.
Why is it that so many of us are aware of this privilege but we don’t think anything of it?
According to Robert Jensen of the University of Texas School of Journalism, “…the ultimate white privilege: the privilege to acknowledge you have unearned privilege but ignore what it means” (White Privilege Shapes The U.S.). So many of us (including myself) choose to ignore this so-called “privilege”. Perhaps it’s a defense mechanism, or maybe we’re in denial about it. It wasn’t until I was 14 years old and I took a trip to the middle east with my family, that I started noticing this phenomenon. After returning to the United States I felt like I was looking at the world through a new lense. I had a completely different outlook on society, status, and privilege. I was so ignorant of the fact that so many of us have unearned privilege yet ignore what it is. Although it may be difficult, I think it is important that we learn, consider, and think more about this phenomenon.
We are fortunate enough to live lives where we can criticize our government, live wherever we want, dress however we want– the list goes on. The reality is, though, that even if we decide not to exercise white privilege, it’s still there. It may take centuries to see a drastic change, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work towards that change now. If we have the power to stand up for what is right, we should do it. Through knowledge, awareness, and advocacy we can be hopeful in seeing this phenomenon leave society.