It started before I even woke up: all the promotional emails piled up in my inbox, determined to usurp Black History Month and turn it into a retail bonanza designed to grab my dollars, but not necessarily to put them into the pockets of actual Black people. While it’s good and right and necessary to celebrate and lift up Black History Month, as a white woman who wants to do better, I’d rather find ways to authentically and actually celebrate the event, as my authentically white self, in a way that truly honors it’s original meaning.
I think this happens two ways: first, by putting my money where my meme is and using actual dollars to support Black people. This is the tiniest of reparations, a small fraction of how I can use my privilege to make up for the generations of economic disablement Black people have suffered at the hands of white supremacy. Second, I can do the hard work of diligently rooting out my own privilege, exposing it for what it is, and then do whatever I can to dismantle it.
That’s why I created this meme, and shared it on social media this morning with instructions to white people to share it only with a list of the way they personally benefit from privilege. Below, you can find the meme and my list of benefits. Feel free to share away, but also do the work. You can also follow me on Instagram: @kerry.connelly
MY LIST OF WAYS I BENEFIT FROM WHITE PRIVILEGE:
1. As a mom, I can trust in the relative safety of my children in school, in encounters with law enforcement and other authorities. The only “talk” I will need to have with them is about sex.
2. Any micro-aggressions I experience as a woman are not compounded by my racial or sexual identity. I am highly privileged as a result of my membership in multiple dominant social groups.
3. While still subject to social pressures regarding beauty, the natural state of my body already aligns with these socially constructed ideals. My hair and skin align with an ideal that I don’t have to work for.
4. Because my body is already aligned with these ideals, I have easier access (I have to work less hard) than people of color to access opportunities in which these ideals come into play. Which is basically everywhere.
5. I mistakenly assume people want to be my friend just because I want to be theirs. White people have been socialized with this sense of entitlement, myself included.
6. Though my family has never been rich, I know that the color of our skin has never impeded our access to income or the accumulation of wealth.
7. I can stop thinking or caring about racial issues if I wanted to, and my life would not be affected negatively. It is high privilege to get to NOT have to think about how my race is at play at any given time.
8. When I am with my friends who are not white, I can be blissfully ignorant of micro-aggressions they may be experiencing. Those micro-aggressions might even come from me.
9. I don’t worry about my husband’s safety when he drives or travels. He is a white male.
10. I never have to choose between my race or my gender when picking which battles to fight.