Privilege

I’ve just listened to a podcast – dear sugar – and their episode on privilege. Both male/female privilege but, more difficult for me to hear, white privilege.

My throat is sticking, like I’m struggling to get the words out, as I try to write about how I’m immersed in a bubble of white privilege. Less of risk of being suspected of misdeeds, with more chance of being interviewed for roles, treated better than my sisters with black or brown skin.

I’m not saying this to berate myself, although I do berate how I have acted in some instances, but as a general opening and noticing of how life is not the same for me as it is for others. How I get more opportunities just due to the colour of my skin. Skin determined by luck rather than merit.

This noticing happened a while ago, before I listened to the podcast episode, when I was feeding Jenson at the side of the road. Caught short, away from home, I lowered myself onto a step to feed him with my bag beside me. I was speaking to a friend at the same time – multitasking at its finest! – and found myself suddenly pulling my bag closer to me as a black man wearing a hoodie walked closely by me.

Many others had walked on by, some just as close to me. But it was him, a man minding his own business, who had me reacting instinctively. He was unsafe. He was not to be trusted. And it’s really stuck with me.

I had revealed my propensity to judge others based on the colour of their skin. My racism in action.

It has provoked something in me – a reckoning of who I am and who I want to be. But I didn’t know what to do until I heard Catrice M Jackson, guest on the podcast, speak about the importance of changing this white privilege in our children by acting differently.

Not locking my car doors when we go through an ‘unsafe’ (usually black-dominated) area.

Buying Jenson toys that are diverse in showing the whole human race.

Choosing books to read with Jenson that have a variety of protagonists.

I’m left with lots of food for thought and the knowledge that if we are going to have a world with less injustice in the future, it starts with me. It starts with us.

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