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Mon May 12, 2014, 01:10 AM

Privilege = shit you don't have to put up with [View all]

People are making a lot of assumptions about what they think people mean when they say "white privilege." It doesn't mean you don't face hardships in life, that you can be judged or race alone, or that your class, gender, and sexuality doesn't matter. All it means is that those of us are white don't have to put up with shit that people of color face everyday.

If I had been wearing a hoodie and walking through that gated community in Florida, Zimmerman wouldn't have feared I was a burglar or represented a danger to him. He would have seen me as a harmless person out for a walk because I am white (and female), and he wouldn't have followed or killed me. If a cop pulls me over, it's because I've been speeding, have expired tags, or made some other moving violation, not because he doesn't believe I could actually own my car. Virtually all African American men have been pulled over by cops simply because they are black, even when they have committed no violation. Those are two examples of shit I don't have to put up with as a white person.

As a straight person, I don't have to worry about having the crap beaten out of me because I kiss someone on the street. I can marry in any state in the union, and that marriage will be recognized everywhere. LGBT Americans face obstacles in both instances--shit I don't have to put up with.

As a middle-class person, there is shit I don't have to put up with (shit I had to put up with when I was poor). I can buy food when I need it. My electricity isn't turned off. I have a place to live. Poor people have to put up with way more shit just to get by every day, while rich people don't have to worry about bills and retirement like I do. I am more privileged that some in terms of class but less privileged than others.

As a woman, there is shit I put up with that men don't. I have a lack of certain privileges as a consequence of my gender. So while I am privileged in terms of race and sexuality, I face some obstacles from sexism.

That I carry privilege in certain areas of life doesn't mean I can't express my views or that people are judging me exclusively on my race. It doesn't mean I am the bad guy, personally responsible for an entire history of oppression. It just means there is shit as a straight, white person that I don't have to put up with.

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