Let’s talk about the United States. The land of the free. The home of the brave. The land of assuming everyone is suspicious. The home of white privilege. Whether you hail from the good old U.S. of A. or elsewhere, recently, it is undeniable that race relations are in a piss-poor state these days, and in fact, have been for a long time. We have stayed blissfully ignorant and have continued to ignore the injustices served to minorities for hundreds — yes, hundreds — of years.
Now, bear with me. I know what you’re thinking. But Chelsea, you’re white. You’re pretty. Doesn’t that mean you are bitching about your own privilege?
Why yes. Yes I am. I am a pretty white girl. I have never been in a situation with law enforcement when I felt like my life was threatened. I have never been assumed suspicious. I have never been accused of being guilty of anything without proof. I have never been assumed dangerous.
And yes, I recognize that I have white privilege.
But what does that mean? This term gets thrown around alot these days — in a world where minorities are being shot for their cars breaking down in inopportune places or for walking down the street in the wrong neighborhood. You see — white privilege is exactly that. As a white person, I’m not in inherent danger if my car breaks down in the middle of the road. It is likely that if an officer or other law enforcement stops to see what’s going on, they will not assume I am armed, dangerous, or have illegal substances.
That’s white privilege.
If I’m walking down the street at night on my way home from a friend’s house party — I’m not assumed to be a threat to the neighborhood I’m walking through. Because of the color of my skin.
That’s white privilege.
Simply put, white privilege is all those small aggressions we of white, European descent don’t deal with in our daily lives. It’s unlikely that we’ll be the ones “randomly selected” at airport security. It is unlikely that we are assumed guilty. It is unlikely that law enforcement looks at us and assumes we have illegal substances or weapons. Cops don’t look at white people and assume we’re in gangs. They don’t assume we’re selling or doing drugs. Hell, they don’t even assume we’re armed.
And let’s be honest, in today’s society of assuming everyone is out to hurt you — a hell of a lot of people are armed.
This is why we’re not okay.
We have lived, for generations, blissfully, willfully ignorant of the systematic racism that has permeated our nation’s core values. Shit, we ENSLAVED an entire RACE of people for hundreds of years with no complaints. I’m not saying we’re the only nation with a history of slavery, but I am saying it took hundreds of years for Americans to begin to even admit that slavery is a gross injustice. It took hundreds of years for Americans to see that people of a different color aren’t lesser of a human being because of the color of their skin. What’s even worse, is after the emancipation of the slaves, we continued to treat them as less than human. We denied them the same rights as white people. We denied them the same education as white people. We denied them the same resources and opportunities as white people. We even denied them the right to vote, and penalized those who had the desire to vote.
What’s worse, is that even 150 years after emancipation — the wounds of slavery are still felt by minorities across this country. Minority races are still denied the same access to education. They are still denied the same access to basic constitutional rights (i.e.: innocent until proven guilty). We still make it harder for them to vote. We discredit their opinion. We paint them in a negative light in the media.
This, my friends, is white privilege.
What upsets me the most is how white folks are the first to deny white privilege. It doesn’t affect them directly, so it must not be real. Minorities don’t need to be convinced that white people live a more privileged life than they do. They already know. They live it every day. But it’s those of us with privilege that refuse to see it, or remain ignorant to it even in the light of conversations like these. I guarantee at least one person will read this and still deny that white privilege is a thing.
You, reader, are part of the problem.
You, reader, are why this nation isn’t okay.
You, reader, must see that you have the privilege of living in a different America than the rest of Americans.
If you need further proof, you needn’t look further than a major news network or trending news. A white man can shoot up a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado and be taken alive. A white man can shoot blacks as they pray peacefully in church and be taken alive (and be taken by Burger King to get some food on the way back to the station).
Yet a black man can’t have his car break down in the middle of the road without being shot.
A black man can’t be a caregiver for a deaf person without being a shot.
A black man can’t walk down the street without being shot.
A black man can’t walk toward police with his hands in the air without being shot.
Do you see a pattern here?
Black people are two and half times more likely to be shot by law enforcement than white people (Washington Post, 2016). Yet, white people commit 69.1% of the violent crimes in the U.S. (Table 43A, FBI). White people are statistically just as likely to commit manslaughter as a black people. White people are statistically MORE likely to perpetrate crimes like forcible rape, aggravated assault, property crimes, and violent crimes.
Yet, 58% of those incarcerated are black or hispanic. In the United States, of 2.3 million people in federal prisons, 1 million are black (Criminal Justice Fact Sheet, NAACP). 5 times as many white people are caught will illicit drugs and illegal weapons, yet minorities are 10 times more likely to be sent to prison for the same crime.
So, do you still think systematic racism isn’t a problem? Do you still think white privilege doesn’t exist?
Open your eyes, please, citizens of the United States.
We’re not okay, America.
We’re not okay.
I would like to note that a very quick Google search lead me to all of these resources, including the statistics from the FBI on the number of violent crimes committed by race. Do a little research, people. For the love of God — do some damn research.
“Table 43A.” FBI. FBI, 2013. Web. 24 Sept. 2016.
“Aren’t More White People than Black People Killed by Police? Yes, but No.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 11 July 2016. Web. 24 Sept. 2016.
“Criminal Justice Fact Sheet.” NAACP. N.p., 2016. Web. 24 Sept. 2016.