In response to Ifemelu’s blog post about white privilege and the experiences she faces in America in its entirety, I thought I would write a post about it too, incorporating my own thoughts and experiences.
First of all, it blows my mind that so many people don’t believe white privilege exists. It makes me want to throw Americanah in their face and demand they read it. White privilege refers to the privileges people with white skin have. One privilege of this is the privilege to feel normal. This reminds me of Dike in Americanah, as throughout school he always feels different because of his skin. In an essay he even write about how he doesn’t know what he is. This is not a feeling that white people get. Being the majority in America is a privilege and it’s about time white people realize that.
People of color face struggles day to day in our society and are too often told to “just deal with it”. People of color also get questioned anytime they bring up a racial encounter with “Are you sure that’s what they meant?” or “Are you sure that’s what you heard?”. Ifemelu talks about this topic a lot in her blog, “Raceteenth Or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black”.
Some racial encounters she endures include her roommate saying to her “Don’t kill my dog with voo-doo”, being told she’s privileged for being able to come to America, dirty looks by white pedestrians while holding hands with her white boyfriend, and being told she looks like a “jungle”. This also brings up another point, reverse racism, which DOES NOT EXIST. You can never be racist to a white person because they have not endured pain and cruelty throughout their history like black people have.
Some other privileges that fall under white privilege are not thinking about race when getting pulled over, not thinking about race when trying to get a bank loan, not thinking about race when turning on the TV or reading the newspaper, and not thinking about race when trying to get a job.
I am white. I am privileged. I know this and every other person with white skin should know they are privileged, too. It is not something we can change, but it is something we can be aware of. Just as we must be aware of the systematic racism ingrained into society. Just as we must be aware of the racism people of color endure. Just as we must listen to people of color share their racial experiences and NOT tell them to “just deal with it”.
Also, don’t be one of those people that claims they “don’t see race”. We all see race. Instead of pretending we are all the same and we all get treated equally, lets celebrate the diversity and loves that exists within each separate culture.