Is the notion of privilege wider than white privilege?
Updated: Jul 17, 2020
Read more ....... When I give talks or workshops about white privilege, other ways in which we may not be privileged, often arises. People who are not privileged in these ways can feel aggrieved that their lack of privilege is not mentioned. They mention that they have been brought up in care, have been written off by their school as unlikely to succeed, are differently abled to the majority of the population, or are transgendered. They also often point to the fact that black people can obtain advantages that they can only dream of, become doctors or lawyers, for example.
So why do we talk of white privilege in particular, rather than always draw attention to all unfair privileges in society such as class, ablement, gender etc? Certainly, it is my view that all these unfair advantages make for an impoverished, dislocated, and unstable society.
However, white privilege is particularly difficult to confront as it is so hard for those who have that privilege to see it. White people see themselves as the norm – unraced – just normal. Their feelings about, and reactions to, black people are often hidden or unconscious, so that they are not fully aware of their own privilege or of the racist attitudes that accompany them. Although these attitudes are not seen and acknowledged, they lead to, many hidden aspects of privilege, for instance, white people being better treated by the police, or in influential and important jobs, even if one or two token black people are also present.
Some black people with pale skins can ‘pass’ for white, and thus may receive the privilege that white people enjoy. The paler the skin, the more acceptable black people are to the white gaze and this gives them an advantage of those with darker skins. These attitudes and biases run very deep and is the reason why it is so important to draw attention to this particular privilege which otherwise goes unnoticed and forsworn. The ability to become aware and honest with ourselves is the first step to doing something about it.