Wednesday, June 3, 2020

White Privilege

Of course I know I'm a beneficiary of white privilege. Of course. But it's so ingrained that I'm not aware of it every moment of every day. That itself is a benefit of white privilege.

Occasionally I come across an example of how I benefit, an example I was only dimly aware of. Like this offhand remark in Colson Whitehead's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "The Nickel Boys." An African-American goes into a restaurant and the hostess doesn't seat him immediately. Whitehead writes, "She pretended not to see him and he started up a round of 'Racism or Bad Service?'"

I suspect that's a game played every day by people of color. Not only haven't I ever had to play myself, I had never even heard of the game. That's white privilege. So of course I'm a beneficiary.

Here's another example. In the recent comedy "The Lovebirds" starring Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani, two people of color, the two are on the run from the police. As they stand on a sidewalk trying not to look suspicious, Nanjiani spots a white cop in a police car slow down to look them over. When the white cop drives on, Nanjiani breathes a sigh of relief, deciding the cop wasn't looking for them specifically, he was just a "normal racist." One throwaway line behind which is a world of experience foreign to beneficiaries of white privilege.

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