“White privilege” has a specific meaning, and it’s not just “white people have it easy.” Specifically, it’s about your awareness of your race and how others perceive you.
I’m sure we’ve all had situations where we’ve wandered into a neighborhood, or bar, or party, where we are a minority. When that happens, there are all these questions: “What do they think of me? Are they wondering why I’m here? Am I in any kind of danger? Are they going to stare at me?” For white people, these experiences are usually a novelty, and usually don’t have a lot of power behind them. Most white people don’t find themselves trying to move up the career ladder in a Latino dominated business, or needing to try to make friends in their Asian neighborhood.
But when you are a minority, these experiences and feelings happen day after day, and it wears you down. It’s grinding on you, and it fucks with your sense of identity. I experienced shades of this living in small town China. Every time I went to the store, stepped on a bus, sat down next to someone, went to a party…there was this feeling of “what is she doing here?” It was like having an extra person following you around- there is me, Sven, and then there is my race, with all the implications and history behind it. And except in very few instances when I was with my real friends or with other foreigners, I was rarely fully comfortable. I always had this little nagging awareness that I was different, and in some ways, not as good. I felt like I was always slightly apologizing for my presence, and just deeply uncomfortable in my skin.
It’s not an exact analog, of course. I knew I could go home, my status came with a lot of perks as well as drawbacks, and I was trying to fit into a completely foreign culture rather than feeling like an alien in my own. But it was enough to make me feel thankful that when I walk down the street here nobody stares, when I go to a job interview, I don’t have to think about what the interviewer thinks about white people, and race isn’t a part of my every day awareness. It’s a real privledge.
Uh, you’re talking about it, so it seems to have worked.