My Unknown Privilege

My whole life I have considered myself to just be very average, no more and no less. I am white, I come from a middle class family, I am a Christian, I have a brother and a sister, both my parents work, I attended public schools, I listen to Dave Matthews, and the list could go on. Anything you would associate with your average white adolescent I could probably relate to in one way or another. I do not deny or try and hide that I have had a comfortable life. I just always viewed myself as being blessed though, not privileged. In the past whenever I thought of white privilege I would think of my friends who were raised living at the lake, spending there summers at the country club, attending the local private schools, going on elaborate family vacations across the States and Europe, and seemingly having the rest of there lives taken care of. In my eyes that was not me, I was just your average white child, not one of “those” privileged white people. Not until I started immersing myself in the lives of those who did not share my skin color, came to college, and even as recently as taking this class did I truly start to realize how wrong my thought process had been. White privilege is not just about social and economic classes. It’s roots go much, much deeper in our societal structure. I was one of those privileged white people, whether I wanted to acknowledge it or not.

The major reason I never recognized the privilege I carried in life is because I was born into it. Just the very fact that I am fair skinned puts me in a completely different bracket of life than anyone who does not share my skin tone. I have never once had to fight for my place in society. My place was given to me, and for no other reason than the color of my skin. Our societally standard has been placed around white people. Our reading suggest to us that white culture has been constructed and built up around us to be the norm, it is very much hand-crafted. Pajackowska and Young state, “The consciously manipulated social construction of whiteness evades the normal structure of culture by not claiming to be one. Rarely, do we hear the term “White culture,” because whiteness merges with its surroundings so that is does not have to define itself as a separate self-sustaining unit. In some respects, whiteness politically becomes “All.”” (pg. 70). I have carried privilege with me my whole life, but the society I was raised in blinded me from seeing this. It is tough for anyone who is apart of a privileged group to see what they have. However, ask anyone outside this privileged society and they can easily show you the benefits that you carry with you through your life.

I believe dialogue is one of the major things missing in todays society. It is not always easy for have dialogue on uncomfortable topics, especially ones that have just become accepted in our society. Another benefit to white privilege is that we get to pick and chose what gets talked about in our society, and privilege is one that gets conveniently overlooked. Until we are able to approach such things we an open mind and a heart that truly wants change, privilege will continue to be apart of our society. I know our class readings and discussions have really challenged me to take a step back and redefine privilege in my own life. So I hope by educating ourselves on the matter we will be able to take our dialogue outside of the classroom and truly have an impact on white privilege within our society.

Tyler B.

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