Responding to this thread.This can be any privilege, but I’m a white male, so that’s what I’ve got. How have you used your privilige?
A few years ago I decided that as a middle aged white male, I may as well use my privilege to my advantage. I’m not talking about things like putting down minorities or anything, but simple stuff.
As a middle aged white male, if I’m found someplace I don’t belong, most likely the worst that happens to me is that I’m politely asked to leave. I’ve used this a couple of times to use the restroom in office buildings that don’t have “public” bathrooms. One incident that stands out was a typical office building in downtown Denver. I walked in, looked at the list of tenants as I walked by, went towards the elevators, and then diverted to the bathrooms when I saw them. Once I did my business I left the bathroom, and then left the building. I made eye contact with the security guard and everything, but he didn’t say or do anything. I’m not a threat.
Anybody else have good examples, or suggestions for things I should be doing?
You weren’t using white male privilege, just white privilege. What you did is just as easy for a woman.
Also, maybe you weren’t using white privilege as much as Upright Citizen Appearance privilege. If you had a shaved head, a nose ring, tattoos, and were wearing fallingoffthebutt pants and no shirt, maybe your whiteness wouldn’t have counted for as much.
Years ago I was walking home and I witnessed a car accident. I saw everything in split screen. On one side, you’ve got a young white Seton Hall U. coed peeling out of a driveway without looking. On the other side, you’ve got a black guy dressed in a work uniform driving a bit too fast on a residential street. He slams into the back of her car.
The moment the two collide, everyone and their mama comes over to help the young girl. She’s visibly upset and shaken up. The white crowd seems to take turns shooting daggers at the other driver with their eyes. He’s just standing there all alone, looking like it is the end of the world for him. But then he sees me standing over on the sidewalk. I ask him if he’s okay and then I tell him I’ll not going anywhere until the police show up.
I told the officer exactly what I wrote here. The girl came out of the driveway way too fast, and the guy was driving way too fast. Later I was contacted by lawyers and I told them the same thing. I don’t know who was ultimately faulted.
Now, I figure I’m not the only one who witnessed the accident. I could have kept walking and minded my business. But I felt that my testimony was needed to increase the likelihood of a fair outcome.
In addition to sticking up for the underdog, you can also use your voice to amplify others. The sad truth is that minorities’ complaints and concerns are routinely belittled and ignored. It’s often assumed that a black person complaining about racism is just being a drama llama making a big to-do about nothing. But a white person is more likely to be listened to by other white people. Like, I’ve really been heartened by all the white folks who have picked up the anti-Confederate monument banner over the past couple of weeks. I wish people didn’t require a critical mass of white supporters to jump on a bandwagon, but it’s reality.
Yes, this pretty much exactly. As a white guy I would have to be into body modification, and dress like that to receive the same suspicion somebody who is not white might experience. Of course it’s not a guarantee. [Made up numbers] 3 out of 10 times I go to use a private restroom I’m told to leave, but a non-white is told to leave 4 out of 10, 8 out of 10?
I can put mayonnaise on a taco, wonton, falafel or anything I want without feeling the need to explain myself. I don’t think I’ve ever bought a jar of mayonnaise but I sleep sound knowing that’s my privilege.
I love the shit out of watermelon and even fried chicken. If there is watermelon around, I will keep going back to get more until there is none left for anyone else. No one ever stops me and I never apologize for eating it all.
To be fair, I can use the bathroom wherever I want as well. I have amazed people by just walking in almost anywhere including expensive hotels, stores and restaurants in big cities and using their facilities no questions asked. I don’t think that has much to do with being a white male though. It is much more about knowing the general layout of most buildings, not looking suspicious and being confident if you have to ask someone where things are. I know other white men that would get kicked out soon after they walked in the door and usually do.
I’m a white woman and IMHO a pretty safe driver, but on a few occasions – maybe three in my entire life – I’ve been pulled over for something like a burned out taillight or minor traffic violation. On each of these occasions I was let off with a warning. I didn’t expect to be let off with a warning, but it wasn’t surprising either, and the worst I did expect was a ticket.
I have never worried that a routine traffic stop would go horribly wrong for me. It’s never even crossed my mind that the police might use excessive force on me or plant phony evidence in my car or anything like that. It’s almost unthinkable that an officer would drag me out of my car and body slam me into the pavement, as one did to a petite, black elementary school teacher in Austin two years ago.
Witnessing an accident involving someone pulling out of a driveway, isn’t is possible that most of the crowd would sympathize with the ‘driveway person’ because they are, in fact, her actual neighbors and they are likely know her personally?
In my neighborhood at least, the locals tend to dislike people from outside using the street as a handy short cut, particularly if they drive too fast. They are always pressuring the authorities to make life more difficult for outside fast drivers by installing speed bumps and the like.
Regardless of actual fault or the rules of the road, they are likely to side with a neighbor over someone just driving through - both because they know them, and because, irrationally or not, they don’t like outside drivers, particularly driving too fast.
It is possible that the antipathy you witnessed had to do with that, rather that racism? Or a combo? Add that one is apparently a young woman, and the other a fully adult man, and you get a lot of possible non-racial reasons for sympathy.
Agreed. I don’t really see any posts on here thus far that have anything to do with being “white” and all to do with just being a person in certain circumstance or choices or a person with different economic status. They are not interchangeable. “White Privilege” is a joke, it doesn’t exist except in the minds of those who want racism to exist to justify a political agenda. I know I’ll be flamed for this but I don’t care. I have heard this sentiment ad nauseum and people believing in this crap is nothing but a perpetuation of racism. If you don’t like racism, stop giving it excuses and keeping it around.
You know what is white privilege? You can tell a story with the expectation that other people will tend to agree with your assessment and give you the benefit of the doubt.
I know people play devil’s advocate with white dudes, but not near as often.
I had a student last year who had a college essay that was a lot like this: he remembered being 10 and someone t-boned the car he was riding in with his mom, and he starkly remembered everyone showing up and paying attention to the white lady who did the driving, and not paying any attention at all to his mom. Some of y’all have already half-written a response to this in your head: “Maybe the white lady was more injured, maybe he doesn’t remember properly, maybe maybe maybe”. Yes, maybe. I could come in here and tell a story about someone mistreating me and no one would bat an eye. I could tell a story about being white-lady teacher in a minority school district and the vast majority of white people would trust my assessment of the situation. But a minority making a claim about how race awareness shaped a situation is treated like they are making a claim about Bigfoot riding a Unicorn: it’s an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence.
I am convinced that people think/relate to the world in narrative, and in any given story, we identify with one character and we defend them as our proxies. I know I do it: tell me the story of your bitch English teacher and I’m coming up with counter-narratives as fast as you can give me details. It takes an act of will to resist the impulse. The problem is that we identify with our racial analogue in any story above and beyond anything except maybe gender. And when there is no analogue, we identify with the “everyman”, who is, of course, A White Man.
Given this, I’ve decided we don’t need Black James Bond and Female Dr. Who and Hispanic Alexander Hamilton and whatever else for the sake of minorities and girls. We need them for white boy children, so they can learn to see themselves in roles that don’t match their race.
It wasn’t a residential driveway. It was the driveway of a parking lot–specifically the parking lot of Seton Hall U. She was a college kid. The people crowding around her were people in the neighborhood, not other college kids.
But there was no reason for anyone to see the dude as an “outsider”. I lived in the same neighborhood and I didn’t recognize anyone crowding around the girl and I’m certain they didn’t recognize me either. Would that justify them shooting eye daggers at me?
The assumptions you’re making only confirm to me that I was right to stand by. You’re assuming that the black guy “didn’t belong” and thus it was excusable for him to be viewed with suspicion, whereas I saw him as someone exactly like me–a person so familiar with a particular street–either because he lived or worked in the neighborhood–that he wasn’t as careful as he could have been. I suspect the people who had crowded around the girl (who probably reminded them of their daughters, niece, or themselves) would make the same assumption you’re making–black guy is the “outsider” that no one wants driving through their neighborhood, and here he is, victimizing “one of our own”. Why wouldn’t their testimony reflect that bias? “The young lady pulled out of the driveway and out of nowhere, this jerk slams right into her!” Can you see why I didn’t want that to be the only story on the record?
I could have been sexism, racism, or classicism or all of the above. I didn’t specify which one because I don’t know. All I know is that I knew the situation was ripe for some kind of “ism”. It actually doesn’t matter what kind. If you see anyone being set up to be railroaded but you can do something to stop it, you should.
Fair enough. I was incorrect in my understanding of your story.
That’s not fair at all. Nothing I said was based on him being a Black guy. They were based on you telling me she was “pulling out of a driveway” on a “residential street”. In my part of the world at least, a “driveway” without qualifier typically means a residential driveway, particularly on a “residential street”.
If the story is different from what I thought it was, so would my analysis be different. Pulling out of a residential driveway on a residential street = reasonable to assume people are treating her as a resident. Not pulling out of a residential driveway = more reasonable to believe some sort of “ism” is involved in treating one different from the other, like you said.
Though your reaction - to me - gives me cause to think you are a bit too ready to impute racist motives to folks.
Whatever. I’m sorry for jumping down your throat, but it didn’t seem like you were inclined to agree with me that the guy was at a huge disadvantage. Whether you want to place the blame on his race or his perceived “outsiderness”, the unfairness of the situation doesn’t change one bit. I saw your post as an attempt to downplay my point–that the guy needed someone to stick up for him. Focusing on whether it was a residential driveway or a parking lot driveway doesn’t change the crux of my story.
And no, I don’t impute racist motives to people very easily. I’m kind of bothered you’d think this. But whatever.
echoreply, if you are serious about using your white male privilege for good, I challenge you to challenge anomalous1’s post. That is, if you disagree with him/her that white privilege is a joke. Because I could produce cite after cite to show how it isn’t a joke, but I don’t know if it will make a difference.
Yeah, spreading awareness is probably the best way to use our privilege. We can amplify the message of those who are less privileged.
I use my white male, heterosexaul Bible Belt Christian privilege to try to get around the idea that liberals are anti-Christian evil people. I have the privilege of being “one of them,” and thus have a better in than, say, some gay atheist from New York.
(Previously, it was trans issues or sometimes abortion issues. Now I’m back to why it’s wrong to support people who do everything the Bible says is wrong.)
Even if, in the moment, I often just want to metaphorically pick them up and shake them until they get a clue and stop justifying ungodly hatred.
Person is an actual neighbor = it makes sense to favor them over a stranger. Doesn’t matter who the two are, in terms of race or class. It may not be fair, but it makes total sense, that folks favor those they know, over those they don’t.
Person is not an actual neighbor = treating them as “one of us” just because they are White, or middle class, or whatever (and the Black guy, or working class guy, as a stranger or outsider) = demonstration of the dangerous prejudice of crowds (which is, I think, your point, and one I’d agree with).
The unfairness may be the same, but the reason for it is totally different. It is unfair if I support my neighbor, my friend or my kid over a stranger, right or wrong. It is unfair if I support a White guy over a Black guy because he’s White, right or wrong. The latter, though, is a lot more dangerous.
Why bothered? It doesn’t particularly bother me to be accused of racism. I just think it’s incorrect, a bit of incorrect conclusions-jumping. I jumped to incorrect conclusions about your story without knowing all the facts, so we are even.