A Practical Guide: Checking Your White Privilege (By A White Woman)

White privilege is a term that divides rooms (of white people), with some dismissing its very existence and others squirming uncomfortably at the unavoidable truths. In the last three years, my personal journey of unpacking my white privilege has been tumultuous and eye-opening. There have been moments where my brow has sweated at certain realisations. The fact is, white people, benefit from systemic racism, consciously and unconsciously. Whether that’s the fact cis white men are paid 12% more than cis white women, and a shocking 36% more than African-American women in the U.S. Being white affords you a certain level of safety in society, that isn’t afforded to POC. This privilege is complicated, layered and intersectional. Taking myself as an example, I have the privilege of being white, cis and middle class, but don’t have the privilege of being a male.  Below I’ve compiled tips, methods and tools that have helped me check my white privilege…

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Educate Yourself

The simple truth is that those who don’t understand white privilege are either ignorant or unwilling. Educating oneself is the first step in becoming more mindful. Below is a list that’ll help you in this journey:

1)      Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, By Reni Eddo-Lodge

Get ready to be confronted by this phenomenal piece of work. Reni has now started a podcast ‘About Race’ that is working on widening the conversation by interviewing key anti-racist activists from the last few decades, give it a listen here.

2)      White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, By Tim Wise

Part memoir and part polemical essays, this book examines the ways racial privilege shapes everyday life for white Americans.

3)      The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, By Michelle Alexander

This examines and draws significant parallels between mass incarceration and Jim Crow, and how this defines the meaning of blackness in modern-day America.

4)      The Heart of Whiteness, By Robert Jensen

Jensen provides an honest and eye-opening argument against those who believe that they’ve transcended racism.

5)      Dear White People, Directed By Justin Simien

Using irony and self-deprecation, this film highlights the major issues that still exist in today’s “post-racial” society.

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Consume Media Consciously  

This is straightforward; don’t appropriate other cultures and don’t support those who do. Don’t read magazines that are controlled by 99% white cis men, don’t buy a singer’s new album if they appropriate black culture and don’t watch a film that stereotypes ethnic minorities. Yes, the creators have a significant amount of blame on their shoulders, but we have a part to play in our consumerism.

This is straightforward; don’t appropriate other cultures and don’t support those who do.

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Don’t Silence POC

POC have been silenced in every aspect of society, they’ve been excluded from their own narratives and their voices are still being stifled. Don’t contribute to this culture. Yes, all progressive voices need to be heard- the more that people speak out, the more that will change. Just don’t speak over POC to get your voice heard. The amount of times I’ve heard a white ‘woke’ person explain someone’s blackness to them is inordinate, please don’t tell someone how their race effects them – listen and learn, then use that knowledge to speak up against racists.

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Don’t Be a Bystander

Whether it’s a microaggression or a hate crime you witness, don’t be a bystander. Racist jokes perpetuate racism, just as rape jokes contribute to rape culture – staying silent isn’t an option. If you’re in a safe situation to confront it then and there, then be careful but go for it. If not, no act of racism is too small to report. Tell your teacher, your HR department, the police – initiate the dialogue. Call out white people who ignore systemic oppression, use your whiteness to dismantle white supremacy.

no act of racism is too small to report.

Let me know in the comments or on social more ways I/we can check our white privilege, would love to hear any other recommendations.

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1 Comment

  1. Kane Jackson
    March 29, 2018 / 11:31 pm

    as a black man i don’t agree with any of this

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