Let’s Try to Listen

“White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, clothes, tools, and blank checks.” – Peggy McCintosh

Discussing white privilege within our society is definitely not easy to talk about. Because of this, our collective society tries to just avoid the discussion of race and privilege as much as possible. Personally, I think acknowledging my privilege is difficult in itself, but talking about it with others and outwardly addressing it is a whole other story. But even though it’s hard, it is necessary, and ignoring the fact that it exists only perpetuates the problem.

So yes, I do have an upper-hand simply because I am white. Is this fair? Absolutely not. I know that, and wish that it was different, but still have a hard time talking about it. Truthfully, this is because I don’t know where to start or how to have that conversation.

Acknowledging that I have an advantage makes me feel as though I am trying to help someone else get to the “level” of which society has placed me at. I feel that this would come off the wrong way, that I view myself on a pedestal, courtesy of the fact that I’m white. I admit that, even though it was unintentional, that my reasoning behind avoiding the discussion may have led me to “hide” in some ways behind my privilege.

But, in writing this, I’ve realized that what matters more is not me talking about my privilege or how I think it affects others. Instead of talking about how we, white people, feel uncomfortable by having privilege, it makes more sense to listen to those who are at a societal disadvantage.

If you aren’t the one affected by a phenomenon, how can you as accurately address it? Understand it? Criticize it? We need to actively listen to those who feel unfavored or discriminated against, so we can make a more conscious and accurate effort of how to fix this gap. Listening with an open mind and genuine care to rid society of the gap is, in my opinion, the only way to erase it.


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