Hipstercrite Life

On Understanding White Privilege

black lives matter

Baby girl, I’ve been seeing this for decades. You stop thinking about. You just pray for the people left behind. You’re just seeing it now. I love you, but you were born on this side of the track, and you’re now on the track peeking over to the other side. Now you’re getting mad with us, and that’s what we need.” –Tyrone, 62, black, homeless, a victim of police brutality, my friend, after asking him how he felt about the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

When I was a very little girl, I heard about Rodney King on the news; I was sad, I was angry, but I did not understand. As an adult, when I heard about Trayvon Martin being killed, I was sad and angry, but I did not understand. When Michael Brown was killed, I was sad and angry, but I did not understand. When Tamir Rice was killed, when Eric Garner was killed, when Freddie Gray was killed, I was sad and angry, but I did not understand. When Sandra Bland, who was killed on this very day in 2015, I was sad and I was angry, but I did not understand.

I did not understand how dire police brutality against people of color was because I never experienced it.

And that’s what white privilege is.

Real talk: When I first heard the word ‘white privilege’ two years ago, I cringed. I took it as an attack — white privilege must mean that I don’t care about people of color, right? That I can never be an ally no matter how hard I try.

And that as a progressive, accepting that I have white privilege not only means I’m the bad guy, but that I need to hate myself.

How ignorant I was.

How could I not see that white privilege doesn’t mean you’re hated, nor does it mean you need to self-hate. White privilege also doesn’t negate any hardships a white person has faced. It means as a person with privilege, you need to spend more time and energy standing up, speaking out, becoming a true ally. It means you need to do everything in your power to understand what is going on, because there is something going on, y’all. It means going to rallies, to marches, to community action meetings. It means educating yourself beyond the text books and Wikipedia about white supremacy and the plight of blacks in America. It means talking about the tough stuff with your friends of color, if they want to talk.

Because watching TV and feeling sad and angry about people of color being murdered is not enough.

I sent this post to a friend whose opinion I value. She gave me helpful feedback and warned me about posting it. “It’s tough because this isn’t about us and writing makes it about us.” And she’s right. What is going on is not about how we white people feel. But I’m putting this out there in case it helps even one person understand that we need to stand up and speak out right now.

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  • Reply Gaby July 13, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    Beautifully written! White privilege is not something I had even heard about until a few years ago when I was getting my undergrad in Social Work. It is truly saddening to see the “all lives matter” posts that discredit and invalidate the struggles of Black people in this country. I’m glad you wrote this post.

  • Reply Alyssa July 14, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    Wow, I’m glad you’re writing about this. Social justice is something I care deeply about and though I protest and volunteer to try and make a difference, I find that my blog doesn’t reflect that. Too often bloggers and vloggers leave causes outside their niche alone and it’s refreshing to see the issues taking a focus on your blog.

    I just discovered your blog today, by the way, when researching for an article I wrote about train travel. Great stuff!

  • Reply Tera July 17, 2016 at 9:19 am

    Thank you!

  • Reply Dwayne August 5, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    My friend recently shared this video and I think it hits the nail on the mark regarding this issues. I think it shows a great way to help. The energy is positive and constructive.


  • Reply KimberlyT August 7, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    I respect this post so much! Truthfully written and with an intent to get others to understand the truth. Found your blog today… not that it matters but this chick is impressed ^_^

  • Reply Alex David August 13, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    Yeah, white liberals suffer from “white privilege” , I guess. But white guys like me who lived in multi-racial neighborhoods growing in places like Brooklyn, my home town, don’t suffer from such a “condition.” We don’t give a smack about ones color. And we lived through the same “oppression.” ,Black cops had no problem busting our heads and our lives were a mixture of abuse and dysfunction, so the term “white privilege” used by Ivy-league students from wealthy background on University Campuses we never have or would have attended is infuriating and silly at the same time.

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