I thought I didn’t have a voice. That I couldn’t speak up. That I had been silenced by men, and stronger women, and my status, my abuse, my income.
But I did have a voice. It was just that I wasn’t saying the things I needed to say.
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I thought it would be enough for me to be a liberal, open-minded person who was not racist or biased and who accepted all people “for who they were on the inside.”
I thought it was enough to go into the inner city and teach Spanish-speaking kids in the low income neighborhoods, in order to “save the world.”
I thought it was enough to vote for Obama, and not vote for Trump, and learn a little bit of Spanish to speak to my students, and approach life like I was “Color Blind,” and stand up to say, “I want to help!”
I thought it was enough to read and write about implicit bias and micro-aggression in grad school.
For all of those actions gave me moral licensing. The ability to do nothing of real value because I thought I was doing “enough” to change the world.
I could do nothing about my curriculum covering only “dead white guys” because I was already teaching in a diverse school. I didn’t have to speak up about greater inequities because I was already fighting inequity within the confines of my classroom.
I didn’t have to challenge the thoughts and opinions of people in my life, because I had already worked on making my own thoughts, beliefs, and opinions liberal and unbiased. And I didn’t have to work on my biases with one group of people because I had already confronted my biases with a different group of people.
And finally, I didn’t have to listen to the rhetoric about white privilege because I had known poverty, had raised myself up from it, and knew what it was like to be without. How could someone use “privilege” in reference to me? Hadn’t I suffered, and fought, and worked, for everything in my life from nothing?
But White Privilege is about so much more than wealth.
It is the basic privileges I live with every moment of every day.
The privilege to go places without my presence being questioned. The privilege to know that products, ads, and media are all created with me in mind. To meet my needs, trigger my emotions to buy, view, click, retweet, share, and post.
The privilege to go through life not questioning the way others are treating me, wondering if there’s ulterior motives involved.
The privilege to know, and take for granted, that my son will grow up safe and sound.