A necessary reality

This week in class, our topic to speak on was White Privilege. And to be honest, I’ve had a hard time thinking of something to write. I’ve been nervous to offend people who I love dearly, or to be the person to give them the reality check that all white people need: We kind of suck. Since our forefathers came onto this land and took it away from those already inhabiting it, we have been used to being ‘superior’ and ‘in charge’. And while we are not our forefathers and are hopefully a lot kinder than they once were, we still have major problems that we have to overcome. Before reading the articles for this week, I had began to consider myself very equal, fair, and understanding towards all walks of life. Long story short, I was way out of line. I subconsciously have a viewpoint of “us” versus “them”, even when I genuinely didn’t think I was. For example, my entire life I have been helping volunteer for charities. However, in an article by Danielle Endres and Mary Gould, they write:

“Viewing service learning interactions as charity is problematic because the notion of ‘helping the other’ is historically and institutionally embedded in power – privileged people helping unprivileged people”

This is a thought that never crossed my mind. However, after reading their words, I realized that I subconsciously view myself as more privileged and therefore should help those who are lesser than myself. When did it stop being about people helping people. Many white people don’t think about this, but do you realize how lucky you are to be white? And I say lucky because you could have easily been born another skin color in another country with an entirely new identity. People have absolutely no say in what circumstances they are born in whether it’s rich or poor, male or female, white or colored skin. So if you were born as a white, upperclass male, then you really hit the jackpot…congratulations! But don’t you think it’s wrong that people are viewed as being less than based on something that they literally have no control over? And don’t you think it’s extremely ridiculous and inhumane that white people are somehow seen as being the superior race? I know that this might be an uncomfortable read for some, but white people need to be more uncomfortable. We’ve lived in a life of unearned privilege because we got lucky and we need to start realizing that our attitudes and viewpoints need to change. Even when you think that you are equal and fair, dig deep and try to discover biases that even you didn’t know you had. These biases affect our everyday thoughts which impact our words and decisions, which impact the world.

-Kate Keeley


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