I was at work awhile ago and for some reason we were talking at lunch about white privilege and a colleague said point blank, “There is no such thing as white privilege. I had to work damn hard to get what I have.”
At the time I did not stand up to him and call him out for his bullshit.
But I am reminded of it today as I reflect on the murder of George Floyd, an African-American man. An African-American man murdered by a white cop because someone suspected him of passing a counterfeit 20 dollar bill.
So let me tell you my experience with white privilege.
Many years ago I had a buddy who worked in a high-end department store in downtown Vancouver. On weekends I frequently went downtown and met him for lunch.
I would walk in the store, wander around, look at the expensive stuff in the store until my buddy was ready to go for lunch. Never had an issue.
One day another of my friend’s joined me for the trip downtown to meet my buddy for lunch. As usual, we were a bit early so we wandered around the store looking at the crap that rich people buy.
When it was time to meet my buddy for lunch, my friend and I made our way to our usual meet-up spot.
When we got there, my buddy who worked in the department store said to us, “Whoa, what have you guys been doing? There are THREE loss prevention (security) teams following you!”
With a wave of my buddy’s hand the security teams left us. But at the time. I was puzzled by this security thing. I had never before had the experience of security following me around a store before.
The only thing different between that trip to the department store and all my previous trips to the store?
This time I was with my friend – a young man who was, and still is an Indigenous man.
Security followed my friend and I because my friend was an Indigenous man.
Not once did they follow me around the store. A scruffy looking white guy wandering around a high-end store did not trigger a “security threat.”
However, when an Indigenous man walks into the store – scramble all units! Not one, not two, but THREE security teams were on the case.
White privilege is knowing that you can go shopping and you will not have security following you simply because of the colour of your skin.
A Facebook friend of mine, James Oliver shared a blog post titled “Dear White People: 3 Tips For You To Keep My Son From Being Murdered By The Police & Karen”.
One of the things we (white people) can do is to USE our white privilege to stand up and speak up when we see injustice:
Raise your kids to courageously stand up when they see injustice against a Black person. In the George Floyd video, I saw a Black person complaining to the police about what they saw. But Black people don’t have the same “privileges” as white people. So, maybe George Floyd would be alive today if one of those other white officers on the scene had a mother who taught her/him that Black people are human.trepLifedad
James Oliver’s blog post is a stark look at the way our world is. But that is the way our world is. Have a read of his blog. And think about how you can use your privilege to make our world safer for James’ son. And all the African-American boys and men.