Got Privilege? : A Response to What People Aren’t Saying About Black Opinions on White Privilege

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My friend posted an article on his facebook. Now I know right now is a very sensitive time for racial issues and I’ve tried to completely avoid all post and statuses about them up until this point. After reading this article this morning via my bed with my morning jar of spicy lemonade (I’m doing a cleanse, themastercleanse.org check it out), I have decided it’s time for there to be another side voiced about the points made in this extremely one-sided, bias blog:

The Article Under Scrutiny

First, please read the article. Second, please understand in no way, shape , or form am I discrediting this woman’s experiences with racism and/or sexism.  I feel for her pain and the times that she was treated lesser because of her external appearance. Matter of fact, I feel for her so much because I can relate to every single numbered point that she made. “What?”, You may find yourself asking, “I thought I was reading a blog written by a Caucasian, Blonde Female.” Yep, you are. And that is the exact attitude I am trying to dismiss with this response. So, please read her article, then continue below.

“The white privilege in this situation is being able to move into a “nice” neighborhood and be accepted not harassed, made to feel unwelcome, or prone to acts of vandalism and hostility.” When I was younger, my parents got divorced. My mother was left with full custody of myself, a 3 year old, and my sister, a four year old, with a biological father who didn’t believe in paying child support.  As a single mom, she did what she could to provide for us.  I remember living in less than desirable apartments once we were too old to share rooms and my mom was probably sick of sleeping on a pull out couch in the living room after a few years.  In order to live somewhere we could all have our own bedroom in a place she could afford, we moved to a neighborhood mostly made up of other singles mothers and lower class families.  Due to whatever factor or conspiracy or other bullshit reasoning behind it, that made us a minority.  I remember fearing the bus stop because of how the other girls that we didn’t look like would pick on my sister and I.  My actual first fight happened at one of these bus stops, when we were beat up by a group of about 4 or 5, all while they said things like “You’re too rich to live here” and other ridiculous comments based on our caucasian appearance and the stereo-types that comes with it. We were in fourth and fifth grade, like are you kidding me!? After that, my mom left her day shift and took an overnight shift where she worked from 8 pm til 3 am, so she could drive us to and from school, all so we didn’t have to take the bus.  So.. Is black privilege in this situation being able to live in a neighborhood that is all you can afford, and be accepted not harassed, made to feel unwelcome, or prone to acts of <VIOLENCE> and hostility?

“If you’ve NEVER had a defining moment in your childhood or your life, where you realize your skin color alone makes other people hate you, you have white privilege.”  In grade school I played lacrosse. I was really into it and pretty good. I remember going to UCDavis in Sacramento, California one year for a Nike Lacrosse camp.  While we were there, we stayed in the dorms for a month and had 3 a day practices, 7 days a week. It was amazing and really helped me develop my skills in a thing I was passionate about.  About a week into camp, we were divided and picked by captains, who were from the UCDavis college lacrosse team, and we began scrimmaging every Friday. I was pretty good, and became  leading scorer of my squad. The second Friday round of scrimmages, I remember the girl I was guarding and throughout camp we had developed somewhat of a rivalry.. I’m not sure why really. We were both really good and I’m a very humble person, but she just didn’t like me, on or off the field.  So anyways, it came down to a tied game and we had the face off which would probably be either teams last opportunity to score. I won it, passed it to my second hole, who then passed it back up to me, and I scored using a behind the back, between the legs trick shot (which I had just learned and was super stoked about it).  When we lined up to clap hands and I got to her, she slapped my hand down and called me a “cracker ass bitch”.  just out of no where. Nothing about my skill level was to do with race; me being better that one face off and having good communication with my teammate  had nothing to do with race. For the rest of the month, her and her friends called me Barbie or some other appearance and race based nickname. So.. If you’ve NEVER had a defining moment in your childhood or your life, where you realize your skin <AND HAIR> color alone makes other people hate you, do you have black privilege?

“If you’ve never been ‘the only one’ of your race in a class, at a party, on a job, etc. and/or it’s been pointed out in a “playful” fashion by the authority figure in said situation – you have white privilege.”  I used to work as an ESOL tutor in Jacksonville when I lived there.  I helped students who didn’t have parents who spoke English very well, or sometimes at all, because they had no support at home.  This obviously involved more in-depth relationships with them and their families, and I often made home visits on the weekends to help with projects and homework.  I grew a lot of respect while working there with their communities. But at first? Oh hell no. They hated me, their families hated me, and they called me more spanish, racial slurs I can even remember or spell.  That isn’t even the point of this though, after they dropped their pre-conceived notions and stereo-types based on my outward appearance and race, I was pretty accepted into their community, homes, and church.  One day, I went to church at their local community church.  The Pastor actually called me out to thank me for all the help and time I spent educating their children and going beyond just what I was paid for.  I felt honored… except how I was called out. He said, “Is Miss Cam, here? I heard she was here. Does anybody see the only white, blonde woman here?” Not even lying. I brushed it off, because he meant nothing by it and then praised me. Also, I was the only white, blonde woman there. So.. If you’ve never been ‘the only one’ of your race in a class, at a party, on a job, etc. and/or it’s been pointed out in a “playful” fashion by the authority figure in said situation- do you have black privilege?

“If you’ve never been on the receiving end of the assumption that when you’ve achieved something it’s only because it was taken away from a white person who “deserved it”that is white privilege.” I remember my senior year in high school entering a school-wide essay contest that the prize was a $1000 grant to use for college. It said to write an essay of your choice, gave us the requirements and format guidelines, and then we were left to our own to participate.  I remember working really, really hard on that essay. I needed the money for my transition from Maine to Florida to attend college, and out-of-state tuition was killing me. Long story short, I won the essay contest. They announced second and third place, although I don’t think there were any grants or prizes.  The day it was announced, I got guilted by some of my friends and a lot of the rest of the school, because the girl who got second place needed the money more.  Now, how did anybody in my high school know who needed and didn’t need the money? I don’t think any of them knew my financial situation, my mom’s, or the cost of the college I was attending. And I don’t think anybody knew hers either.  It was decided I won the essay contest and shouldn’t have because I was a star lacrosse player who was white and blonde, so my family must have money right?  Also I was selected out of favoritism, not out of my own hard work.  Which I spent weeks on that essay and revisions.  Then, it was also factlessly decided that because she wasn’t white and blonde, that her family must need the support more. So.. If you’ve never been on the receiving end of the assumption that when you’ve achieved something it’s only because it was taken away from a <other race> person who “deserved it” – is that black privilege?

“If no one has ever questioned your intellectual capabilities or attendance at an elite institution based solely on your skin color, that is white privilege.”  I’m not going to spend much time on this because I have a thousand different experiences throughout my life questioning my intelligence.. why? Because I am a fairly good-looking, white, blonde female.  Now I do not think anybody can accurately say that there is one stereo-type in the entire world of different appearances that is more commonly written off as unintelligent and ditsy, than pretty, white, blonde females.  I remember being at the top of my Latin IV class and the results of our midterms being hung outside the teacher’s office.  We all stood around waiting for him to post them because they were released that afternoon and that weekend most of us were traveling home for the holidays.  I scored the highest. Every single person gave me a surprised look, and a few made comments asking “how did you cheat” or “smarter than she looks”. This is one of thousands of experiences throughout my entire life as an honor student, a girl who graduated at 16, and scored higher than you (most likely) on my SATs.  So.. If no one has ever questioned your intellectual capabilities or attendance at an elite institution based solely on your skin <or hair> color, is that non-blonde privilege? 

“If you have never experienced or considered how damaging it is/was/could be to grow up without myriad role models and images in school that reflect you in your required reading material or in the mainstream media – that is white privilege.” I fully am not wasting to much time on this either for a few quick reasons.  All mainstream media “role models” for white, blonde females have been basic AF and viewed as sexual objects.. Seriously. I loved history and cant really recall any super strong influential lessons on strong females really at all- the ones there aren’t, haven’t been blonde. Also, Thoreau, Emerson, Malcolm X, Joseph Conrad, Dreiser, etc- are all males, so this argument is kind of hypocritical to begin with because there aren’t any females represented. A quick example I will use is that I’m Christian, I believe in the bible.  I’ve never been allowed to read that as assigned reading in school because all kinds of people have objected and “disagreed” with it. I quietly accept and respect their opinions, without letting my feelings get hurt or feeling targeted. Last example: every school celebrates black history month. We had to, every year, do multiple projects, essays, and other assignments on a certain race for an entire month. Is there a white history month? Nope. If there was, how many protests do you think there would be?! For the record, I think all months dedicated to specifically one group is ridiculous, learn about it all in chronological order and leave it at that.  But really, a whole month is dedicated in schools to just one race and their accomplishments, and researching that. So.. If you have never experienced or considered how damaging it is/was/could be to grow up without myriad role models and images in school that reflect you in your required reading material or in the mainstream media- is that black privilege?

“If you’ve never been blindsided when you are just trying to enjoy a meal by a well-paid faculty member’s patronizing and racist assumptions about how grateful black people must feel to be in their presence – you have white privilege.”  This statement is just ridiculous. I think people need to stop associating money and pretentious people with racism.  I have been a server at a country club and I have also been a guest at one. I have gone to a lot of up-scale events with friends.  I have also served at a bunch. This experience of her’s had nothing to do with race, it had to do with the host’s pretentiousness.  I have been serving and been told I was blessed to be in someone’s presence because they were going to do great things and one day I would be thankful I can tell the story of waiting on them to my children! I have also been a guest and had a host make a comment like that to the people waiting on us, which immediately blindsided me and ruined the meal. It had nothing to do with race- but with money.  Most rich people are ignorant- white, black, brown, yellow – money changes people. And that’s all I will say on this topic. So.. If you’ve never been blindsided when you are just trying to enjoy a meal by a well-paid faculty member’s patronizing and racist assumptions about how grateful white people must feel to be in their presence – do you have black privilege?

“If you’ve never been on the receiving end of a boss’s prejudiced, uninformed “how dare she question my ideas” badmouthing based on solely on his ego and your race, you have white privilege.” Umm.. do I even need to re-state this point? I’m a white, blonde, pretty female. Almost every job I’ve ever had has assumed I was an idiot when I first started.  I cannot name one job that I’ve had where my bosses – black, white, male, female- didn’t question my intelligence in the beginning because of their prejudice and uninformed assumption based on my appearance.  I’ve worked hard to prove my intelligence, drive, and usefulness at every position I’ve ever held.  I have always been badmouthed until they like me, which happens because the ideas I question are because I know a better, and more efficient, way to do it.  When they try them, they usually work, so I earn their favor through hard work. So.. If you’ve never been on the receiving end of a boss’ prejudiced, uninformed “how dare she question my ideas” badmouthing based on solely on his ego and your <APPEARANCE>, do you have black privilege?

“If you’ve never had to mask the fruits of your success with a floppy-eared, stuffed bunny rabbit so you won’t get harassed by the cops on the way home from your gainful employment (or never had a first date start this way), you have white privilege.” I’ve dated all kinds of guys. Fully tattooed guys were a big stage of mine for awhile.  I cannot count the times that these big, tatted guys were targeted by police, door guys, and any other authority while we were out on a date. People assumed they were like biker gang thugs or trouble makers I guess.  I’ve also always hung out with people who go to music festivals and have grateful dead stickers and such on their cars.  Most of them are white guys with long hair.  It would be impossible for me to recount every example of when they were targeted by police and pulled over and assumed to have drugs in their care because they were a white kid with a deadhead sticker on their bumper.  It has nothing to do with race, it has to do with stereo-types, and there is one for almost every color and appearance.  Police play off of it, and unfortunately, they are usually right and that’s why it still continues to happen to everyone.  So.. If you’ve never had to mask the fruits of your success by not putting one of your favorite band’s stickers on your car so you won’t get harassed by cops on the way home from your gainful employment (or never had a first date start this way), do you have black privilege?

“Not having to rewrite stories, headlines or swap photos while being trolled by racists when all you’re trying to do on a daily basis is promote positivity and share stories of hope and achievement and justice – that is white privilege.”  Ok so this one time I had a website called Good White News and I was shocked at how many racist people trolled it.  No just kidding, but seriously, with that title every other race besides the one that is being reflected is going to have people troll it and make stupid racial comments.  My instagram used to be public and I put a Lil Wayne quote under a selfie once, and hashtagged his name. I got repeated black women calling me a cracker and telling me I can’t listen to hip hop and know nothing about it.  All of which I deleted. And on a side note, I lived at the beach so I believe I can relate to “Life is a beach, I’m just playing in the sand” way more than some chick from Chicago.  But seriously, since when didn’t the internet have trolls offering their expertise on everything and being racist and ignorant? So.. Is not having to rewrite statuses, captions, or swap lyrics on a selfie while being trolled by racists when all you’re trying to do on a daily basis is promoting positivity and share selfies of happiness- is that black privilege?

So ok, Ms Lori Laken Hutcherson of good black news, I’m exhausted. I am sorry for your experiences of being singled out by your appearance.  I am also sorry for mine. And his. And hers. And theirs.  So let me just re-iterate what I think it’s time we all realize in 2016:

Stereo-types, prejudice, and privilege are things that happen to every race, religion, skin type, hair color, etc.  APPEARANCE BASED JUDGMENTS ARE NOT SOLELY HAPPENING TO ONE SPECIFIC TYPE AND ITS TIME WE ALL OPEN OUR EYES. We can all be victims and capitalize on that divide, or we can all shut up and stop making it about us.  Because guess what- it isn’t all about us.  Once we start pointing out injustices based on them happening because of race, we are incorrect.  Everybody has it hard, everybody has been singled out, and everybody has been judged.  That’s society.

I’m not downplaying one instance for another, I’m just strictly not playing.  It’s all what you make it, be a target or don’t be. Just stop trying to influence people to see your suffering more than anyone else’s.