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One easy thing every white person could do to make the world a better place


Laurie4b
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http://www.upworthy.com/one-easy-thing-all-white-people-could-do-that-would-make-the-world-a-better-place-2

 

I hope people will listen to this with  open minds and hearts. I am white and have an African American friend who experiences this kind of thing constantly. And it hurts the most when her kids are with her. The woman speaking is very gracious and so is my friend.

 

I know this is likely to start a debate and I hope people can be respectful.

 

I also hope that those of us who are white who may not have realized that this kind of thing happens--because it doesn't happen to us, or maybe it did happen to us once, so we assume that things are all even-- I hope that people can watch with open hearts and minds.

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Does it matter when it happened?  It still happens today, as in the year 2013.  Maybe not with a bad check notebook (although we have a few small towns that still have them sitting by the register - our rural areas can be pretty backwards), but in other ways this same type of treatment still happens.

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Establishments in our area have "bad check" books--or even lists that are posted right at the register.

 

This type of incident took place with my lovely friend about 2 weeks ago.

 

I understand, though, that it is hard to believe that this happens on a regular basis. But I know from things that my friend shares that it does indeed, still happen, and it's frequent. We live in a cosmopolitan, progressive area.

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Can somebody summarize? I can't watch the video...

A black woman went shopping with her SIL who is half-black, half-white. SIL looks white.

 

SIL checked out her groceries first. Cashier socialized with her and accepted her personal check without question.

 

Black woman checks out next. Cashier doesn't socialize and asked for 2 forms of ID, said it's policy. Cashier also looks thru the bad check book.

 

SIL stepped in and defended her SIL, said she was being treated differently simply bc she was black.

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Does it matter when it happened? It still happens today, as in the year 2013. Maybe not with a bad check notebook (although we have a few small towns that still have them sitting by the register - our rural areas can be pretty backwards), but in other ways this same type of treatment still happens.

yes, because I'm curious.

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Establishments in our area have "bad check" books--or even lists that are posted right at the register.

 

This type of incident took place with my lovely friend about 2 weeks ago.

 

I understand, though, it is hard to believe that this happens on a regular basis. But I know from things that my friend shares that it does indeed, still happen, and it's frequent.

That still doesn't tell me when THIS woman's incident took place.

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I've seen things like that happen and it always boggles my mind that people can do that (the cashier). Things always go better when someone else is willing to say something. Defending yourself never is seen as positively from the people around you. It's not just Blacks who get treated different, although I suppose in some areas it's pretty bad. Anyone who looks different will end up with a scenario like this at one point or another and it's not right. I can only hope that there will slowly be more people around them that will stand up for them and say, "This is not ok."

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This is bound to offend, but I sometimes think that I am too young for this stuff. I just don't get it. I grew up with equality taught on a regular basis and I teach the same to my kids.

 

This is not to say that I don't get that it happens. (though, thankfully, it is becoming more rare) And you bet I would say something if I saw it happen. Am I abnormal? Is everybody shocked that this happens? Are they determined after watching that video that they will stand up for someone when yesterday they would have walked away?

 

On second thought, clearly some think this is something that still really needs to be pointed out. I'm glad if people who haven't yet received the memo can be reached. :)

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Wow.

So I know this is going to sound 100% naive of me, but I had no idea this stuff happens in modern day society. It just seems so foreign to me... :001_huh:

Very interesting!

Our neighbors before we moved have Mexican roots. I was shocked to find out how much stuff the Mom still saw in this day and age, especially in more cosmopolitan locations (they were former military so had lived in a variety of locations.) Dad is a large guy with a don't mess with me vibe, so he rarely got comments or looks. The kids also occasionally got comments or looks, but they have a bit of their Dad's vibe so got less than Mom.

 

They are great people, my daughter said, "But why would anyone want to be mean to Miss L_____? She is one of the nicest people I know." I told her that she was right, and they were the ones missing out by not looking past the color of her skin to see her heart.

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This is bound to offend, but I sometimes think that I am too young for this stuff. I just don't get it. I grew up with equality taught on a regular basis and I teach the same to my kids.

 

This is not to say that I don't get that it happens. (though, thankfully, it is becoming more rare) And you bet I would say something if I saw it happen. Am I abnormal? Is everybody shocked that this happens? Are they determined after watching that video that they will stand up for someone when yesterday they would have walked away?

 

On second thought, clearly some think this is something that still really needs to be pointed out. I'm glad if people who haven't yet received the memo can be reached. :)

 

I'm old enough to have seen it. I live in a majority white area - there is still a lot of underlying racism, yet people don't talk about it so much anymore. I used to live in an area where the racism was very in your face, it was shocking. I have several incidents where I was assumed racist by other white people simply because I'm white - obvious by the things they would tell me. I was left speechless more than once. 

 

I do believe there are places in this country where it would be news that you're not supposed to treat black people differently. 

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It's a good message.

 

That said, I don't think I've ever witnessed that type of overt discrimination.  I'm sure it still happens, but it has not been prevalent in the communities I've lived in. 

 

I'm curious about how people feel about the continued use of the term "white privilege".  Obviously, it's an apt description and people immediately know what is meant by it.  Personally, I feel that this term is no longer helpful to racial discourse.

 

When the term was coined, "white privilege" was built into our (U.S.) laws and other aspects of society.  It was the right term for those times. Today, when privileges are bestowed based on skin color, it's simply discrimination. Because our laws as well as the general perception of what is "socially acceptable" have changed. I think we'd be better served simply calling discriminatory acts what they are - discrimination.  The term "white privilege" just continues to divide IMO.

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I'm curious how people feel about the continued use of the term "white privilege". Obviously, it's an apt description and people immediately know what is meant by it. Personally, I feel that this term is no longer helpful to racial discourse.

 

I'm reading a thread on a different board about "rape culture". It's very similar.

 

The explanation given that I'm stealing and using here is basically to think about the assumptions you have when hearing a story. Do you immediately picture a male unless it's mentioned that it's a woman? Is your image someone who is white? That's your mental "default setting" and that's white privilege. You likely aren't aware of it if you're benefiting from it, but that doesn't mean it's not there.

 

I asked a friend once about 8 years ago if he'd ever been pulled over for DWB (driving while black) and he had...young black male. I've never been pulled over. ?Love has a story about getting his first car, driving around and getting repeatedly stopped in a neighborhood. One officer told him it was because he was black.

 

There was also a recent experiment done (don't have link) where different people tried breaking a lock at a bike stand to get a bike. The black males were accosted more than anyone else. I think it was a white male who had others help him break the lock to get to the bike. This is recent stuff. Also there have been studies on resumes and names (AA names are less likely to get interviews than traditionaly white names)

 

Again, if you benefit, you're not likely to see it and it can be uncomfortable to acknowledge.

White privilege is absolutely here.

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I'm curious about how people feel about the continued use of the term "white privilege".  Obviously, it's an apt description and people immediately know what is meant by it.  Personally, I feel that this term is no longer helpful to racial discourse.

 

 

There are still people who believe in "white supremacy".  My family had racial insults thrown at us for being Asians in certain areas by strangers.  Even the assigned school principal talks almost exclusively to whites in a school that is about 30% Hispanic/Latino and 30% Asian. A few of the school board members also have that attitude.  We know a few librarians who only tell off kids that are Asians or Latinos.

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In my area, people think they get around "racism" by descriminating against "city people" (people who move to our region from the NY, NJ, and Philly urban areas.) They REALLY don't get that, one, white people move here from the cities (though maybe I'm "better" because dh and I only lived in Trenton for a short time @@) and, two, they can't SEE "city" on a white person, so when they see someone and scoff about "city people," it's always people of not-their-color.

 

I, a white person, was mostly ignored by natives until I was here long enough that they couldn't remember where I came from just by looking at me.

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I love that video!  As a transracial adoptive parent I have the white privilege to talk to white people about racism in a way that a black person could not but I am actually slightly in touch with racism because my children are black.  

 

As for our current status on racism I have found that outright Hate is a lot less common (still occurs on occasion but people are much more likely to comment on outright hate based racist speech ie Paula Deen), but the harder to identify institutional, privilege based racism is still occurring and may be the hardest to fight because it is rather under the radar and for many can appear normal.  Why not assume that a black male in an all white neighborhood is up to no good because the stats tell us that black men are more likely to be a criminal but the immediate assumption shows a bias that is racially based.  Or the fact that a security guard is more likely to follow a black women around the store than a white women.  But it is harder to fight because it can be harder to see and even harder to articulate.  This is why talking about white privilege is still an important part of the conversation about race because the majority of racism now is less overt and more institutionalized.

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I'm reading a thread on a different board about "rape culture". It's very similar.

The explanation given that I'm stealing and using here is basically to think about the assumptions you have when hearing a story. Do you immediately picture a male unless it's mentioned that it's a woman? Is your image someone who is white? That's your mental "default setting" and that's white privilege. You likely aren't aware of it if you're benefiting from it, but that doesn't mean it's not there.

I asked a friend once about 8 years ago if he'd ever been pulled over for DWB (driving while black) and he had...young black male. I've never been pulled over. ?Love has a story about getting his first car, driving around and getting repeatedly stopped in a neighborhood. One officer told him it was because he was black.

There was also a recent experiment done (don't have link) where different people tried breaking a lock at a bike stand to get a bike. The black males were accosted more than anyone else. I think it was a white male who had others help him break the lock to get to the bike. This is recent stuff. Also there have been studies on resumes and names (AA names are less likely to get interviews than traditionaly white names)

Again, if you benefit, you're not likely to see it and it can be uncomfortable to acknowledge.
White privilege is absolutely here.

 

Thank you for your thoughtful response.

 

I don't doubt that people still enjoy a privileged status in some areas simply because they're white.  I'm simply questioning whether continuing to promote the idea of white privilege is helpful or harmful to the overall efforts to eradicate racism.  

 

Words have power, and ideas live on in large part through words.  The term "white privilege" evokes a very different response from people than the more general term of "racism". White privilege carries with it an implied accusation against all white people, whether they are racist or not. It tends to shut down dialogue rather than encourage it.  It's difficult for people to intelligently discuss something that they're told is impossible for them to see because of their skin color.  Not the best starting point for effective conversations about racism IMO. 

 

But I appreciate hearing from people who see this differently.  :)

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Um, at least once or twice every few months I notice a person of color being asked for identification for their credit card when white customers are not being asked for ID. I essentially never get the same demand, even when I have affixed a neon "Please See ID" sticker on my card. I also see clerks stare at my SIL and niece in ways they don't stare at me and my same aged son. My SIL is Puerto Rican and my niece is PR and AA (my brother is AA). I am as pale white as white comes and my son is the Gerber baby all grown up. It is never, ever reversed. Sometimes it is subtle. Sometimes it is plain as day. This is not rare nor a thing of the past. White people who don't see it are probably just not aware of it even when it is going on. That's what white privilege is all about people.

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Words have power, and ideas live on in large part through words.  The term "white privilege" evokes a very different response from people than the more general term of "racism". White privilege carries with it an implied accusation against all white people, whether they are racist or not.

Accusation of WHAT? Having white privilege? Well, yeah, basically all white people do have white privileges. To replace that term with "racism" wouldn't make a lick of sense, because it doesn't mean the same thing.
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That said, I don't think I've ever witnessed that type of overt discrimination.  I'm sure it still happens, but it has not been prevalent in the communities I've lived in. 

 

But I don't think the cashier would even say she was overtly racist. She tried to explain away her actions for non-race related reasons: She knew SIL, but not the storyteller. She might have even believed that to be the case. Like what Carrie12345 was saying, sometimes people say the difference in the way people are treated is because they are "city people" rather than identifying with a different race, but deep down it's about race. 

 

Modern or symbolic racism is one way to describe this. American society generally realizes that you can't be blatantly racist without raising a few eyebrows, so there is a more subtle, but pervasive form of racism that has continued. One classic description of this phenomenon is when people say they are against Affirmative Action because it devalues the effort of minorities...in other words, if an African American is hired over a white person, then everyone in the company will always know it's just because that person was black. Well, no, not really. Not if people understand that Affirmative Action is not about hiring an inferior job candidate, it's just about hiring one the candidate who is minority race, all else being equal. (I'm not trying to start a debate on Affirmative Action. This is just a classic example and there is research showing a relationship between prejudice and beliefs regarding Affirmative Action). 

 

Anyway, that is a good, powerful video. I'm glad someone took a stand for her. But I'm also ambivalent. It's sad that an articulate woman such as this one needs to have white people come to her rescue to defend her honor. It just seems really unfair.

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Thank you for your thoughtful response.

 

I don't doubt that people still enjoy a privileged status in some areas simply because they're white. I'm simply questioning whether continuing to promote the idea of white privilege is helpful or harmful to the overall efforts to eradicate racism.

 

Words have power, and ideas live on in large part through words. The term "white privilege" evokes a very different response from people than the more general term of "racism". White privilege carries with it an implied accusation against all white people, whether they are racist or not. It tends to shut down dialogue rather than encourage it. It's difficult for people to intelligently discuss something that they're told is impossible for them to see because of their skin color. Not the best starting point for effective conversations about racism IMO.

 

But I appreciate hearing from people who see this differently. :)

It only shuts down conversation if people react to it like it is an accusation. It's not something that will go away until the people benefiting from it reject it and challenge it rather than denying it. I am a white chick who has grown up with a black brother. I am young (early 30s). Yet the stories I can tell about bias towards me and against my brother could easily be from a different era. I don't consider it my fault that I benefit from white privilege, but it is my fault if I deny it or delude myself into thinking that we live in a color blind post racial society. We do not and will not anytime soon.

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The term "white privilege" evokes a very different response from people than the more general term of "racism". White privilege carries with it an implied accusation against all white people, whether they are racist or not. It tends to shut down dialogue rather than encourage it. It's difficult for people to intelligently discuss something that they're told is impossible for them to see because of their skin color.

 

I can't really agree with this. I am a white person in the south. I have no special background that would make me extra racially sensitive - no AA family members ...

 

But I get what white privilege is, can sometimes recognize it in my own life, and don't think the phrase implies white blindness or oblivian. I think it implies something different from 'racism.'

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Thank you for your thoughtful response.

 

I don't doubt that people still enjoy a privileged status in some areas simply because they're white.  I'm simply questioning whether continuing to promote the idea of white privilege is helpful or harmful to the overall efforts to eradicate racism.  

 

Words have power, and ideas live on in large part through words.  The term "white privilege" evokes a very different response from people than the more general term of "racism". White privilege carries with it an implied accusation against all white people, whether they are racist or not. It tends to shut down dialogue rather than encourage it.  It's difficult for people to intelligently discuss something that they're told is impossible for them to see because of their skin color.  Not the best starting point for effective conversations about racism IMO. 

 

But I appreciate hearing from people who see this differently.  :)

 

I appreciate hearing this discussion in a civil forum, and I am pretty surprised at the video. I grew up in a very rural area with very few non-white people (literally one or two African American families lived in the largest town in the whole county--though that is changing). What is often described as white privilege has been a little mysterious to me because of this. This discussion helps, though I do think people often imply that I should do something about it, somehow give it up, etc. Even in this discussion, that point seems to be debated and unclear. I sort of understand how seeing white people "do something about it" implies non-whites need to be rescued, but if I were a white woman in the situation described in the video, I would think that standing by and not saying something would be really wrong. This is where a lot of it gets fuzzy for me. Up until recently, I've only heard the term used in very bitter, nasty discussions. I still am naïve about it, although I believe such discrimination is both real and often transparent.

 

To the posters who talked about using city folk language to justify racial discrimination, I am sorry to hear that happens. Although I would like to point out that in the area where I grew up, it is often very easy to pick out city folks whose skin tone matches that of the local population. City folks walk, talk, drive, and do many things very differently! I undoubtedly look like a hay-seed everywhere I go as well.

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It isn't only white people who are racist.

 

If people were kinder and extended grace to their fellow man the world would be a better place.

I can agree with that last part. But racism involves power. Any person can be bigoted toward another group, but none (in the US, at least) have the power to do harm the way white people (and white, rich men in particular) can to just about any other race.

 

Heck, I can be bigoted toward white, rich men. But it isn't exactly an -ism, because what real harm am I, a middle class woman, going to do to hold them back?!

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Accusation of WHAT? Having white privilege? Well, yeah, basically all white people do have white privileges. To replace that term with "racism" wouldn't make a lick of sense, because it doesn't mean the same thing.

 

 

It only shuts down conversation if people react to it like it is an accusation. It's not something that will go away until the people benefiting from it reject it and challenge it rather than denying it. I am a white chick who has grown up with a black brother. I am young (early 30s). Yet the stories I can tell about bias towards me and against my brother could easily be from a different era. I don't consider it my fault that I benefit from white privilege, but it is my fault if I deny it or delude myself into thinking that we live in a color blind post racial society. We do not and will not anytime soon.

 

I hear what you both are saying, and I don't necessarily disagree. Perhaps I'm not explaining myself well.

 

Racism is alive and well, and I agree that there is still much to address.  White people do still benefit from preferential treatment in some places.  I'm not denying that.  I'm simply questioning whether it's helpful to focus on white privilege in the overall discussion of racism.

 

The goal is equal treatment of all people, regardless of race or skin color.  In discussions about racism, when we use that goal as a starting point, it's pretty clear how to move forward.  For the most part, we can all see how we do - or do not - contribute to that. Someone is either being given equal treatment and opportunity, or they're not.

 

When we introduce white privilege into the discussion, what actions can we (people of all races collectively) take based upon that?  It becomes a lot less clear.  And it introduces an element of divisiveness into what should ideally be a unifying discussion.  

 

White privilege is defined as the set of societal privileges that white people benefit from that are not extended to people of color.  In the OP's video (which I thought was good overall), the woman introduced white privilege into the discussion.  IMO white privilege, once introduced, frames the discussion in the context of "white people vs. people of color" instead of framing the discussion in terms of "discrimination based on race, regardless of the source."   My point was simply that I think the latter discussion is the more valuable one to have.

 

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Thank you for posting this.

 

Race is not the only trigger for injustice. My mother used a wheelchair (polio) all of my life and we encountered the same thing. Clerks would speak to me, a child, looking right past my mom. She was always asked for ID, told she couldn't possibly have a driver's licanse, and generally treated like a child. 

 

Looking out for those around us, recognizing when we have the power to help--great messages!

 

 

White Privilege does exist, and studies have shown that looking attractive has its privileges, too. Attractive people of all races find doors opening around them while others work hard to wedge a foot in the crack. If we are lucky/blessed enough to find ourselves in any position of power, then raising those around us is one of the privileges to enjoy. The message of kindness and awareness does not need to carry incrimination or name-calling.

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I hear what you both are saying, and I don't necessarily disagree. Perhaps I'm not explaining myself well.

 

Racism is alive and well, and I agree that there is still much to address.  White people do still benefit from preferential treatment in some places.  I'm not denying that.  I'm simply questioning whether it's helpful to focus on white privilege in the overall discussion of racism.

 

The goal is equal treatment of all people, regardless of race.  In discussions about racism, when we use that goal as a starting point, it's pretty clear how to move forward.  For the most part, we can all see how we do - or do not - contribute to that. Someone is either being given equal opportunity, or they're not.

 

When we introduce white privilege into the discussion, what actions can we (people of all races collectively) take based upon that?  It becomes a lot less clear.  And it introduces an element of divisiveness into what should ideally be a unifying discussion.  

 

White privilege is defined as the set of societal privileges that white people benefit from that are not extended to people of color.  In the OP's video (which I thought was good overall), the woman introduced white privilege into the discussion.  IMO white privilege, once introduced, frames the discussion in the context of "white people vs. people of color" instead of framing the discussion in terms of "discrimination based on race, regardless of the source."   My point was simply that I think the latter discussion is the more valuable one to have.

What I'm getting is that you want to make the discussion more palatable for white people. And I get why you think that would be more helpful. But when people try to avoid this very fact, it actually makes it easier to dismiss racism as an issue all together.

 

Oh, everyone loves the Latino family down the street.

The black man next door is a successful banker.

Kids around here don't see color.

Everyone in our area gets along just fine.

 

On the surface, things in many areas can look just peachy. But when you dig into the murky white privilege, (or, lack of it for non-white-people) a very different story emerges. And those are the stories that really need to be brought to light.

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I agree that the term "white privilege" is charged and puts white people on the defensive, preventing a really open conversation.

 

But I don't honestly know why.  Maybe it's because the term is so often used in the context of white guilt etc.

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I agree that the term "white privilege" is charged and puts white people on the defensive, preventing a really open conversation.

 

But I don't honestly know why.  Maybe it's because the term is so often used in the context of white guilt etc.

What alternate term do you suggest? I'm trying to imagine what could possibly be more to the point.

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What I'm getting is that you want to make the discussion more palatable for white people. And I get why you think that would be more helpful. 

 

My intent is to make the discussion more comprehensive, not more palatable. 

 

But when people try to avoid this very fact, it actually makes it easier to dismiss racism as an issue all together.

 

 

When white privilege is emphasized, it narrows the discussion to the point that it dismisses the true breadth and depth of racism in this country.

 

On the surface, things in many areas can look just peachy. But when you dig into the murky white privilege, (or, lack of it for non-white-people) a very different story emerges. And those are the stories that really need to be brought to light.

 

I agree with you that things are often not as they appear, and I'd like to see those stories brought to light and discussed as part of broader, inclusive discussions around racism. 

 

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When white privilege is emphasized, it narrows the discussion to the point that it dismisses the true breadth and depth of racism in this country.

 

 

 

I agree with you that things are often not as they appear, and I'd like to see those stories brought to light and discussed as part of broader, inclusive discussions around racism.

Can you give me an example? BEcause my currently-multi-tasking self can't figure out what broader aspects of racism exist beyond whites wield more privilege. ;-)

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I agree that the term "white privilege" is charged and puts white people on the defensive, preventing a really open conversation.

 

But I don't honestly know why.  Maybe it's because the term is so often used in the context of white guilt etc.

 

My response to the term white privilege is - what am I as a white person supposed to do about it? 

 

I am white, my husband is white, my kids are white.   I wouldn't disagree that people may treat us better than they treat our non-white neighbors.  If I saw it happening, I would speak up (as was done in the video).  That I don't see it happening either means it doesn't happen in the places I go, or I am oblivious. 

 

The "white" woman who spoke up at the grocery store was in the perfect position to see what was happening and call the cashier on it because she was waiting there with her sister-in-law.  If the black woman behind her in line had been a stranger, she'd have gone on to the parking lot with her groceries.  Oblivious.

 

I'm glad I watched the video; I almost passed it by because of the subject line of the thread.  It looked like another thing to make white people feel guilty for being white.  I just can't muster up any white guilt.  Please judge me by my character, not by the color of my skin, as I do for you.

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