White Liberals Have White Privilege Too|
I'd like to show this essay to a former black co-worker, who insisted that Asians had nothing to complain about, because they *were* white. She didn't believe me that Black was just the first step in a tall pyramid.
An interesting piece. But it left me with a question...
I caught ever so tiny a glimpse into the other side when I used to sport long hair. I got out of catholic school when I graduated high school and more out of laziness than anything else, I let it go for 9 years until the fire department made me cut it when they decided I was serious about volunteering.
During that time I noticed extra attention. I got a number of random checks at airports, many more than I've had since my hair resumed a shorter length. I noticed extra police attention on a couple of occasions. I and another long haired white male were pulled over on the Pennsylvania turn pike driving a 60 something dodge. The trooper (In an unmarked patrol car) stopped us 'cuse there were decals in the back window, against the law in Pennsylvania. We got a written warning. After the stop the driver complained about the cop to which I responded "that was a drug stop, he was looking for cause to search the car" He found none and let us go. To long haired white guys in that car... I probably would have stopped us too. (We can discuss the up's and down's of profiles some other time). I used to get my plates run in Ann Arbor all the time, which I never really understood. Maybe it was something about my truck. Anyway, be that as it may, I noticed a little extra attention and I attributed it to my appearance.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming that I know how a person of color, or of arab decent really feels. I know that in the end I'm a white guy of irish decent and that if I get stopped I'm unlikely to face the hard ships others who do not share my heritage can. That is to say I was never scared of it (other than the number of points on my driving record).
So, the author asks us to take off the knapsack of privilege (which I'm fully aware I have) and set it aside, but offers no real advice that I can see on how to do that. Do I start telling the cops not to let me off with a warning? Do I start telling the TSA that I should get an extra check?
My rhetorical question becomes how do the privileged give up privilege when they don't have direct control over the system that grants it? Or am I missing a point some where?
The LJ community Racism_101
has been exploring a number of questions along these lines.
fixracism.com also has some suggestions.
I'm a little nonplussed that this is still news. I mean, here in Chicago we have the respectable and rehabilitated Bill Ayres, who was an inept bomb-maker, but whose father ran the Chicago electric monopoly; and fewer and fewer people who've ever heard of Fred Hampton, who fed schoolchildren breakfasts their families couldn't afford, and was drugged by an informer the night he was to be machine-gunned in his bed, to make extra sure the murder would go as planned.
And crabbing about my knapsack gets real old real fast with no clue about what to do. Not all that frequently, but regularly, I hold out my hands and say, "What do you want me to do?" I wish I got more answers.
Then again, I also save for special occasions the wonderful line I got from a cartoon: “Obviously a case of mistaken identity. Whoever’s been oppressing you for four hundred years would have to be a lot older than I am.”