The Inadvertent Racist

“It seems we are more concerned with being called racist than we are with racism” Macklemore, 2016

It is pretty amazing to me when topics collide. Reading articles about white privilege and then having my roommate ask me if I had heard the Macklemore song where he disses Miley and Iggy would appear to have little in common. However, after actually listening to the song (appropriately called white privilege) it sent my mind into a tailspin. What is more amazing to me, is when I can actually and honestly say what I’m learning in class has social, political and practical merit.

If you asked me three hours if I had white privilege, I would have rolled my eyes at the thought of a racism debate. During those three hours, I read some articles that made me roll my eyes at least a little slower. I don’t think about my racial privilege. If you were to ask me, I would describe the word as “blessed” in talking about my current situation: I have a healthy family, I am going to a well-known (incredible, if I do say so myself) university, I have a car I was physically able to shovel out of the snow in front of my apartment complex where I had tons of food and entertainment (none of which I can admit I continually work for), and I have a job interview on Friday that I like to think I was invited to because of my resume. Yes, very blessed. How horrible is it that I am using blessed and white privilege in the same context. Am I blessed to be white? That’s probably the most eye-opening sentence I’ve ever written and after reading those articles, I am tempted to agree with it.

It hurts me to think I may not have gotten this far on my own good looks and dazzling personality (and subpar sense of humor). Robert Jensen spells it out a little more eloquently than I probably can, but at the heart of the matter is the fact that I do have an advantage and I can ignore it, or I can become actively more aware of it and learn how to do something.

In this country we are so (very recently) concerned about who is calling who a racist and who is taking everything too seriously, that it’s easy to create a problem while ignoring a larger one. I know I am guilty. Regardless of how we spin it, Macklemore wrote an eight minute song about white privilege and the only thing everyone is concerned about it how Iggy is responding to the criticism on Twitter.

The first step is admitting there is a problem. I’m not sure we’re ever going to get to step two.

-Kelli Anne Louthan
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2 thoughts on “The Inadvertent Racist

  1. Wow. I really like your discussion about being blessed vs. experiencing white privilege. For me, “blessed” has always held a religious connotation–God blesses people with things. If I am “blessed” in my life rather than privileged through Whiteness, the question then becomes, “Why are people of color not blessed in the same way?”

    We’ve come to think of blessings as these external circumstances of having a car, having good health, having food, etc. Perhaps our interpretation of what it means to be blessed has been muddied by a Western/American/capitalistic/White mentality.

    • Those were my thoughts exactly. When writing this I was going through just how blessed I am (in a religious perspective) and it kind of hit me that other people feel blessed for less than what I have and how my place in society has impacted my interpretation of what it does mean to be blessed. Thanks for the insight!

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