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  • Writer's pictureJudy Ryde

“White Privilege - a slippery subject”

Updated: Nov 5, 2019

Click here to read more ......... White privilege is a slippery subject. It can be hard to describe or even justify it as a phenomenon.

The following questions arise when I consider it:

  • Why is this subject important?

  • What is ‘white’ and who are white people?

  • What about white working-class people? Surely, they are not privileged.

  • What about rich, middle class black people? Surely, they are privileged.

  • White people used to be privileged but are not now. It is in the past and white people can’t be held responsible for crimes committed before they were born.

  • Isn’t this subject an example of political correctness gone mad?

  • If we are privileged - what can w do about it?

  • Surely this is the business of black people.

This and other questions and comments are addressed in my book: ‘White Privilege Unmasked: How to be part of the solution.’

Basic to the book is something that white people find hard to understand - the ways that they are privileged in 2019 - and the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which their privilege impacts on black people in their day-to-day lives. This impact is difficult for white people to understand in an experiential, deeply felt way - like all basic assumptions that create the basis of our specific ways of being in the world, but becomes more obvious, given sufficient will, empathy and imagination.

It starts with the necessity of white people to be genuinely interested in and concerned about their impact, as white people, on the world. It means, within a racial context, to be prepared to look in the mirror rather than looking out at black people providing a landscape of cultural diversity. To help explore this I have developed some models – specifically a ‘White Awareness Model.’The book, ‘White Privilege Unmasked’, describes both my personal journey of discovering my being white, and an exploration of how experience is held within our history and culture, and the ways it affects us in often subtle ways. Experiences within white institutions – ranging from small units like families to groupings as large as nations - carry and perpetuate culture – and for white people, the implicit idea that white is ‘normal’ and others deviate from that normality. The book not only explores these matters but goes on to look at how this subtly divisive global dynamic can be identifies and tackled - potentially leading to a more just and peaceful world.


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