The realities of white privilege

There are times I sit down to write one of these weekly blog posts and I struggle because I don’t feel qualified enough to discuss the subject matter. This is one of those weeks so bear with me as I gather my thoughts. White privilege is a term I’ve heard thrown about on a frequent basis as we become an evermore “woke” generation. The Cambridge English dictionary describes it as “the fact of people with white skin having advantages in society that other people do not have:”[1]  These advantages include things such as mainstream shops mostly catering their products to white people (predominately beauty products such as foundations and hair products), police brutality (black people were 8 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people in 2016/17[2]) and even media representation[3].

When I was looking for a proper definition of what white privilege was, I stumbled on to the Urban Dictionary website (yes… I really was going to quote the Urban Dictionary[4]) and I was dumbfounded by some of the definitions I saw. It’s amazing how people can spew hate with so much ease when they know it’s anonymous. Anyway, the thing that really surprised me was the fact that most of the definitions I read made white privilege out to be simply a claim or a made up idea. You’d have to be a fool to honestly believe white privilege doesn’t exist because it’s glaringly obvious in most cases and it’s not something that’s hidden.

Earlier this week, I caught up with a good friend of mine, the conversation we had is really what triggered this blog post, and as you do, we spoke a little bit about work. She mentioned a colleague of hers who’s behaviour has been somewhat erratic, and it made us reflect on how things would be much different for us if we acted in a similar way. White privilege is getting drunk on your lunch break and simply being sent home with no warnings whatsoever. White privilege is not having to worry that people may label you the “angry black girl” if you say one thing out of turn. White privilege is being able to search for a nude dress online and have an array of different options available to you. It may seem silly to say it but that is white privilege.

When I’m writing a blog post on a topic that I don’t know too much about, I like to do a little bit of further research, just so the post isn’t only full of my opinions. When I researched this topic, aside from the Urban Dictionary discovery, what I found was a lot of people essentially saying that white privilege generalises all white people. I think that’s a fair point to a certain extent. Obviously, not all white people get opportunities through nepotism and not all white people in the UK are even of British decent, so they may not necessarily have the same opportunities as those who are of British decent. However, looking at the previous examples I’ve given I think it’s quite clear that there are levels to this s**t. I personally believe that every white person benefits from white privilege to some extent.

So, what exactly am I getting at here? My goal is always to motivate people and where possible to educate. This post hasn’t been written to attack anyone in any way. I believe that as a society we need to be open and frank about topics like white privilege. It’s not something that will change overnight but at least if we all acknowledge it’s there then that’s one step in the right direction, right?

Paula M

[1] https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/white-privilege

[2] https://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk/crime-justice-and-the-law/policing/stop-and-search/latest

[3] https://www.news.com.au/sport/sports-life/raheem-sterling-exposes-unacceptable-media-coverage-of-teammates/news-story/e499a67d54901c0643e50d23b0a70edd

[4] https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=White%20Privilege

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