Somebody on Twitter asked: “Have you ever experienced racism? Tell us your story.”
There are two ways to experience racism: As a victim and as a beneficiary. I have experienced racism as a beneficiary. It’s called “white privilege.”
And the more I observe the victims of racism, the more undeserving I feel of its benefits.
I am no more deserving than my black brothers and sisters of being able to walk (or jog) down the street without being harassed.
I am no more deserving than black Americans to feel only mildly annoyed when a cop pulls me over on the highways or city streets.
I am no more deserving than they are of living in a comfortable home in a “safe” neighborhood.
I am no more deserving than they are of being able to watch birds in a city park without others feeling threatened by my presence.
It’s been said that America will never truly rise to greatness until we undergo the genuine soul-searching and structural realignments demanded by “truth and reconciliation.” This week I’ve seen a lot of people encountering some big truths about America and who we have been (and still are) as a racially divided nation. There’s a lot more to come. And the reconciliation will never come without uncovering all of the shameful truths about our nation’s history and about how I and others like me have benefitted while others suffered.
You might also want to read my previous post, “This is Not a White Country.” Or this broader take on the notion of “Privilege.“