So often in matters of race, we only talk about the impact of oppression, the effects of blackness and the negative impact of the social construct of race. But, race has a bright side. It’s called privilege, white privilege.
While we are familiar with “the race card” and now due to this presidential election cycle “the woman card,” we have not discussed the full deck that persons identified as socially colored white are handed in American society. I suppose that discussing it would “show their hand.”
Still, I dare you to name the privileges that you have benefited from due to your “appearance”, to go beyond Peggy McIntosh’s “Invisible Knapsack” and name your own. What are the personal privileges that you have benefitted from due to a social constructed white identity? What favorable assumptions have been made about you that are not true– but true of the stereotype of whiteness? Are their instances when you have used your white privilege to your benefit and to the detriment of someone not socially colored white? What support did you give yourself for the action? What lie did you tell yourself in order to play this race card?
I am convinced that while we may be talking more about race, we are thinking less and less about what race means to us. Instead, we outsource it to the latest public outcry of racialized injustice. We find a bad racist to pin our problems with race on. “It him and not me.” “It’s them and not us.”
But, the privileges that we hold are holding us back from authentic relationships with our selves and each other. Naming the privileges of whiteness allows us to expose the lies that we live by, dismantle the deceptions that prop up faulty hierarchies of supremacy and remove the mask that allows us to smile and oppress at the same time.