“Me, Privileged? Is it Because I’m White?”

Am I privileged? I don’t notice or feel like I’m more privileged than anyone else. But then I read a quote saying, “white privilege is like the air we breathe: we don’t really know it’s around us unless it’s unavailable”, making me reconsider just how advantaged I really am.

If I get a job, no one is going to think I got it just to fill any type of diversity quota.

It doesn’t have to be big signs of racism; it can just be the little things that make a difference. For example, as a white person, I never have to walk into a job interview and consider whether the colour of my skin, or the style of my hair will affect if I get this job. And if I get a job, no one is going to think I got it just to fill any type of diversity quota.

I have never in my life been followed round a shop or looked at more closely by security guards, and so have never even considered that this is something that black people can experience even on a daily basis. In fact, white privilege really means that I’m just unaware of the colour of my skin; it’s just not something I think about because it doesn’t cause anyone to discriminate against me.

The point is, white privilege is so pervasive in our lives that we don’t even notice that it exists. I don’t notice that when I walk into a room, I will be surrounded by mostly people of my skin colour. Or that choosing a foundation colour is so easy for me, because brands have an abundance of shades… but mainly only for Caucasian people. Or even that when I turn on the TV or read a magazine or watch a film there will always be white people represented en masse.

I’m not going to be someone’s token ‘white friend’

It’s just little things that add up. If someone asks me where I’m from and I respond, no one is going to question that, or ask me where I’m really from, unlike how they may if I had a different skin colour. I’m never going to see my culture used as a costume or a theme for a party. I’m not going to be someone’s token ‘white friend’ or the person everyone in the room turns to when there is a discussion about discrimination or race.

The more I think about it, the more I realise that I am so incredibly privileged that I just accept all these little things as completely normal and have never had to think about what it would be like to go about these day to day situations as a black person.

Like it or not, white privilege is real and present, and we need to stop pretending it isn’t. So let’s use Black History Month as a way to celebrate and show respect to black culture and history, and how far we’ve come with regards to racism. This is also an opportunity to acknowledge that until we start recognising that these seemingly invisible social structures benefiting white people do exist, then we have a very long way to go.

Katy Skillen

Featured image courtesy of Stephen Dann via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

In article image courtesy of @isaidwhutisaid via Instagram. No changes were made to this image. 

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