I was all set to write a post for the Angry Black Woman’s carnival of allies, but the day slipped by me.
I could make all sorts of excuses as to why I didn’t write it in time. I was busy, I had an earwig burrowing into my brain, I was tired. Whatever.
I didn’t write about it because I don’t have to. One of the biggest privileges I have as a white person is that I don’t have to think about my privilege. I don’t have to think about it, and when I do, I get a cookie for even acknowledging that racism exists. (Note that said cookie usually comes from other white folks grappling to excuse themselves from their privilege, not from people of color.) I get lauded for saying that I have unearned privilege - general privilege as well as concrete, multiple, specific privileges.
Another symptom of privilege is that I don’t notice it until I compare it to male privilege. Although I know that, for example, women should be the ones defining what is and isn’t sexism, I get to mentally excuse racism as ‘not racist’ because it wasn’t intended that way, I don’t see it as racist, or the person complaining just needs to lighten up and take it as a joke.
Even when I don’t speak up and express those views, my silence speaks volumes. Sometimes I rationalize my silence with the fact that everyone already knows what I think, and they’re tired of hearing about it. Yet, me feeling slightly alienated at my (white) peers dismissing me and thinking that I’m still spouting off the same bullshit pales in comparison to the toll of being the subject of racism. No, really, it does.
That’s really the point. I can choose to call out racism or not, but the rewards of said calling out are generally huge in a liberal/progressive community. I win either way. A person who is subjected to racism and has to choose whether or not to call it out loses either way: either xie is going along with racist crap - and therefore agrees with the racist crap - or xie is angry and irrational for daring to call it out.
I ask that white folks call out their own privilege because of the continuing nature of said privilege, and all the ways they have benefited. I don’t care if your ancestors didn’t own slaves, or were Irish and were treated as not white, or whatever.
You still benefit from unearned privilege. Deal with it. Do something productive with it, rather than trying to defend the completely unjust benefit that you are getting.