Many people, especially conservatives, like to claim that white privilege doesn’t exist. While the term is loosely used to describe discrimination in our society and the workplace against all minorities, white privilege generally refers to the advantage that white men tend to enjoy – like not getting kicked out of a Donald Trump rally for simply being black.
When white privilege is discussed, detractors like to point to their personal anecdotes. Some will claim that they have bosses who are black, or that they were passed over for a promotion in favor of a candidate who is a minority. Although there is almost certainly favoritism by blacks or Asians for other members of their ethnicity in 21st century America, the fact is that there has institutionalized prejudice in favor of white privilege in our society since the founding of this country.
White entrepreneurs tend to enjoy an advantage when starting a business. White men do not experience discrimination in the workplace that minorities do, or the sexism that women of all skin colors deal with.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released numbers for 2014 fiscal year, and racism was the second most reported issue, followed by sexism. While these are accusations, it does point to a real issue in America.
As a white, heterosexual male, let me relate to you some of my experiences. I have been harassed for being white, by an angry black kitchen manager who was furious his wife had left him for a white man – likely due to his anger issues and alcoholism. I have also been picked on for being gay, even though I am straight. These were not incidents based on institutionalized bigotry, they were acts by individuals who had their own issues to deal with.
At the same time, I have gotten away with a lot of things in my lifetime that would likely have sent someone of color to prison. That includes mischief and vandalism as a teenager, as well as some nasty, bloody fights as an adult. That’s my anecdotal evidence and life experience.
When a white person points like myself talks about their privilege, conservatives rage. They like to claim that racism is over in America, and that they are now the persecuted minority.
White privilege is not being profiled by the police. White privilege is the difference between ending up in jail with bail as the Ammon Bundy group did, instead of being shot by cops for holding a pellet gun like Tamir Rice did.
White privilege means walking into a convenience store wearing a hoodie like my Violent Gentlemen sweatshirt and not being viewed as a threat. It is not being followed around in retail stores by loss prevention officers, a job that I have performed for a couple of big companies, including Walmart.
It shouldn’t be a big deal for white people to admit that we have that privilege. Understanding our place in society and working to amend that inequality should be an issue we comprehend and try to rectify. We owe that to ourselves, and to the future of this country.