The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

An explanation of white privilege


June 18, 2020

To The Eagle:

What is white privilege? Here is the explanation someone requested.

We live in White America and sup daily at the banquet of white privilege. White privilege is not something that you choose — it exists. This social construct was in place before you and I were born. Accepting white privilege doesn’t mean you’re proud of it. It also doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.

There are good people I’ve known my whole life that have done positive things for their communities, saying that they “love all races” or something to that effect. And in the next breath deny the existence of white privilege.

One hears “I’m not privileged! I worked for everything I have!” or “We lived on public assistance when we were younger and never felt privileged!” That’s not how it works, though. White privilege isn’t about money at all. You can grow up poor, and still enjoy white privilege. What white privilege means is that, of all the hardships you’ve faced in your life, being disadvantaged because of your race isn’t one of them.

Do you worry about someone calling the police because you’ve lingered too long over your coffee at Starbucks? Have you ever been reluctant to call the police for help because you know that ‘officer friendly’ won’t be, when he sees your skin color? Have you worried about someone calling 911, or worse, because you’re jogging in their neighborhood?

Living under the mantle of white privilege means never having to worry about those travesties. Despite civil rights legislation and anti discrimination laws, day to day race relations have not improved much over the last 50 years. Understanding the sad truth that some lives are valued more than others in America does not make you a racist, or a moron. That’s your privilege.

JB Bouchard

Puget Island


Reader Comments(1)

DGW writes:

Thank you for your clear explanation. Many white people live disadvantaged lives. There's no doubt that It is challenging to be disadvantaged. But even a wealthy black person who has done well and has a financial advantage over me as a white middle class woman, faces racism whereas I I have never experienced racism. My skin color has not been a disadvantage.


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