Trayvon Martin And White Privilege

One morning, not too long ago, I woke up with white privilege on my mind. It was the morning after a gathering of mostly white people at a friend’s house during which racist comments had been uttered, and I felt quite unsettled as I tried to sleep on my friend’s couch through the night. One person characterized a black woman we both knew as “talking like a white girl.” Another person told me, very matter-of-factly, that black people did not like dogs.

I had known this particular group of people for a few years, but had not been around them for awhile, and I wondered to myself if they had always said these types of things. Perhaps I simply swept them under the rug in the past. I am pleased to say that my level of social consciousness has risen considerably in recent years, so it is highly possible that I had previously overlooked racially ignorant commentary. However, at this point in my 24-year-old life, I cannot and will not tolerate any forms of racism, even if they are seemingly harmless words from people who probably do not know any better.

Those “seemingly harmless words” are the reason why thoughts of white privilege were swirling around my head long after the gathering had ended. Upon waking up, I attempted to initiate a candid and open discussion about it with my friends. They stared at me as if antennas were growing out of the top of my head… just completely baffled. They had never even heard of white privilege, so they surely had never recognized the role it played in their lives. My friends were college-educated women, but apparently had never stepped foot into an introductory women’s studies class. I tried my best to explain the concept.

White people (and people who appear to be white) take a number of things for granted. Going through life, they do not have to face the myriad assumptions and stereotypes that I encounter each and every day as a black woman. They are allowed to speak proper English and enjoy the company of canines without being judged or perceived as a race traitor. Whites have the luxury of being protected by police instead of being harmed or threatened by their presence. By now, hopefully you have heard about Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old black boy who was shot and killed last month in a Sanford, Fla. gated community by an overzealous white and Hispanic neighborhood watch captain named George Zimmerman. Zimmerman claims his actions were in self-defense, but Martin was armed with only a bag of Skittles and a can of tea while Zimmerman carried a deadly weapon. Zimmerman, who has a previous criminal record, has yet to be arrested, and we all know if the roles were reversed, Martin would have been arrested in a heartbeat. Apparently, the mere act of being black, wearing a hoodie, and walking to the convenience store is now a criminal act punishable by death.

On a personal note, anytime I spot a cop car anywhere near me, my heart starts beating fast because I know that as soon as they see my brown skin and locked hair, before even opening my mouth, they will have formed certain opinions about me. In my life, it feels like people have tried to attribute almost everything about me to my race. I am fairly loud. I fancy myself a fantastic dancer. I love fried chicken (but watermelon I can do without). Let me be clear: none of the above has anything to do with me being born to black parents, but has everything to do with me being a human with traits that are uniquely me! Race is nothing more than a social construct created to label certain groups of people as inferior.

To walk into a room tabula rasa style, as a totally blank slate… how would it feel? How could it feel? I will never receive that privilege because of the color of my skin. The girls I tried to educate about white privilege on that fateful morning later told others that I had woken up and immediately started going on about “white power.” They saw no distinction between power and privilege. “White power” is a concept that groups such as the Ku Klux Klan rally around, and I do not believe that any of my white friends or acquaintances are involved in any type of hate organizations. Also, I do not believe they think only white people should possess power in our country. However, they cannot change the fact that white has been right in this country for hundreds of years or the fact that our culture is dominated by white standards. If you happen to be white and you happen to be reading this piece of writing, be grateful for the privileges that your skin color affords you. There is absolutely no reason for self-loathing because you did not choose to be white anymore than I chose to be black. Being proud of who you are is important no matter what color you are, but always be aware of your inherent privilege in the world because it is not available to everyone, including me. TC mark

image – Shutterstock


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  • Nishant

    A sincere request to all Americans from people outside the country: Please stop your pro-gun laws. You come across as hateful, dangerous and violent people.

    • Mike T.

      I doubt your comment comes across as polite, non-judgmental or fair, either

      • Nishant

        I thought saying please was part of a polite statement.

        The rest of it, about COMING ACROSS (notice how I’m not accusing anyone of BEING so, also a sign of politeness and fairness) as hateful, dangerous and violent stems from the political arguments made in the USA in favour of possessing guns, shooting people in the name of self-defense, being the most armed nation in the world and being actively involved in starting the last 3 really big wars.

        I think I’m not the one doing the judging here, nor is this a purely individual opinion. I am sharing something a lot of the people in the world believe.

      • Mike T.

        Sorry, the simplicity (and apparent ease) in which you (yes, you) judge the whole situation doesn’t convince me as something that’s beyond bandwagon-hopping…

        Anyway, this is TC. Agree to disagree. Back to how I love how gay Ryan is on video.

      • Nishant

        Agreed about TC. The rest, all I can say is it isn’t bandwagon-hopping. I’m not piling hate on the USA, I’m just saying pro-gun laws will lead to more and more such instances and its something that should not be ignored w.r.t the Trayvor Martin case.

      • Anonymous

        Yeah, I’m American and I lived in Canada for four years, and what amazed me was how much shit people would pile on America while a LOT of the same shit happens in other countries as well. People get shot and stabbed and have violent racial conflicts in Canada, Mexico, and pretty much everywhere in the world. I get that it’s easy to pick apart America, as the “big bully,” but we are a country of 350 million people that definitely do not all share the same views, that is why our “culture wars” are happening. How about people pay attention and try to clean up the problems of their own countries before criticizing everywhere else.

      • Sunny

        I think the issue that I take with your first comment (though I don’t disagree with it, and I respect your opinion) is that by addressing “all Americans,” and lumping us all together “as hateful, dangerous and violent people,” you disregard the large contingency in this here country that despises the very things you despise as someone outside of the U.S. Even though we may be passionately for change, or vehemently against violence, the unfortunate truth is laws and the physical processes of repealing them are controlled by lawmakers and the government. That is all.

      • Nishant

        Why do you miss the point then that I DON’T judge you all as hateful, dangerous and violent people? All I’m saying is that acts like these give impressions like those. 

        That does not imply that I necessarily clump all Americans into one mould and passionately hate that mould. I love TC, for one thing, and I enjoy reading how everyone thinks and I love reading the comments column. Not things I would do if I hated every American. (I also love The Doors but I think that’s besides the point a bit)

        Nowhere in that first comment do I say that I believe those things to be true.

      • Sunny

        (I don’t have time at the moment, but I want to give this a thoughtful response later when I do have time. Because I don’t disagree with what you are saying – I think a lot of the muddled back and forth is a communication/internet-lacking-tonal-inflection thing. And I appreciate you humoring continuing dialogue – I think it’s great! More later.)

      • Sunny

        Wow, I didn’t realize how many comments would accumulate in one day. Anyway, I think basically what I was trying to get at was that, while gun-proponents may be a large and vocal population in the United States, it cannot be overlooked that there are MANY different factions of people here, who represent and stand for all sorts of points-of-view.

        Personally, I think our national image (and how our actions are experienced and interpreted by other countries) is a travesty not quite appreciated by many Americans. That being said, whether I am an American citizen who supports or opposes stricter gun-control, the fact of the matter is, as individual citizens, we are essentially powerless in having a DIRECT hand in changing laws we disagree with. (Believe me, if I personally could, there are countless laws I would amend or do away with in a heartbeat.)

        So when you chose to address “all Americans”, it hurt a little because I do not count myself among this faction of U.S. citizens you attempted to address. I feel as though my voice, as a strongly-opinionated opponent of gun freedom, is not acknowledged in your plea. It may have been a more tactful approach to, instead, direct your (very valid) plea towards those Americans who support looser (or even no) gun-control laws. Just don’t assume, as an outsider to the U.S., that there do not also exist allies of your opinion INSIDE this country. I really appreciate hearing your thoughts, however, and I hope I do not come across as angry. I’m just trying to clarify, while also validating your opinion.

      • Nishant

        I think you already say (in your comment) what my intention was. I didn’t mean to club all Americans into one category. I simply mean that in order to change the system, all Americans would need to do something about it. Hence, the request was to “all Americans”. That is all. 
        It would be SO STUPID (and I can imagine very offensive) to assume that absolutely every American is a gun-toting something-or-other enacting a stereotype perceived by everyone outside the US. There are cool people. I mentioned the Doors before, but its every where and everyone, right? You have fantastically organized and resilient anti-war protests, you have the creative people (and some of them are here as well) and you have that singer known as St. Vincent who I’m going to marry one day.Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m glad you understand what I meant!

      • Nishant

        And oh yes, I vehemently nod and agree with your last line. Well, second last actually. We are all facing that kind of problem.

        Maybe I’m wrong here, or maybe the news-media I have access to colours Americans that way, but it does seem like even a lot of the population want to hold on to guns.

      • Margaret Thatcher

        Do you REALLY think that if someone breaks into your house with a weapon (and keep in mind that if a criminal has a weapon, he or she probably did not get it through the legal channels), you shouldn’t be able to meet force with force to defend yourself? This is one of the few things that America gets right–if you’re inside your own home, why should you have a duty to retreat?

        Also, yes, there are a lot of crimes committed with guns, but when you look at the number of people who have committed these crimes who have gotten guns through the legal channels, the number is actually very small. Also, keep in mind that there are still many guns manufactured in the 1800s that still function. Traditional guns, when taken care of , have a very long shelf life. It’s not like we could just ban guns and all the guns would just go away. That’s why I’m not in favor of gun control–if we could make ALL the guns go away by passing a law, that’d be the best case scenario, but until someone figures out a way to make that happen, I don’t want to live in a country where only the criminals have guns. I don’t own a gun and don’t want to, but I enjoy the “community immunity” offered by the fact that many of the people in my area carry concealed, and no one who sees me can tell for sure that I don’t.

        Sorry to go off on a tangent, but the ignorance on this issue really bugs me. I fully believe that what happened to Trayvon was murder, plain and simple, but that doesn’t negate the fact that the gun didn’t kill him. Racism and ignorance did. And as with all other attempts to get rid of racism from the top down, trying to use gun control laws to legislate away racism and ignorance is going to fail.

      • Nishant

        I understand what you mean, former Prime Minister of G.B. :P

        But isn’t this a Cold War scenario then? They have guns, we need guns too. How do we stop having guns while they have them? Aren’t we supposed to have moved on from that lesson?

        Having guns should be criminal. I think you agreed with that part too. I fully agree that racism and ignorance needs to be addressed first. But really now, how many countries are there in the whole world that give guns to its people so easily? And next question, how many countries have as many people in jails as the US does? As I reason it (and please tell me if I’m being wrong), my answer to the adage – “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” –  would be “People don’t kill people. People with guns kill people.”

      • Karlycatherine

         Nishant-While I do believe in stricter gun laws, I really think you should watch “Bowling For Columbine” sometime..There are many nations that have just as many guns as we do, and just as many if not more citizens and they don’t murder one another like we do in America-it’s the culture..

      • Nishant

        Good point. I have been meaning to see that one.

      • Jordana Bevan

        1 it’s pretty polite 2 “it comes across as” implies nishant doesn’t want to think we are, but when guys like zimmerman shoot kids like trayvon, what the fuck else can people outside the country think? when guys like zimmerman shoot kids like trayvon A FUCKING MONTH AGO AND WE STILL HAVEN’T ARRESTED HIM, what else can they think? 3 subjective heh

      • Mike T.

        I’m an outsider actually. I come from Malaysia, where people die much more unjustified deaths due to race and not much of a shit is/was/will be given, other than the proverbial racial finger-pointing. I’ve seen the dark side (try Indonesia!), and this is comparatively silver-lined. The fact that the majority of the younger generation in the states have taken a very very supportive and progressive stance towards this incident speaks volumes about how unfair and archaic that comment was.

      • Nishant

        Thank you, that IS what I mean. I don’t understand why no one else sees that.

      • Rishtopher

        Actually it does. It’s worded to give Americans the benefit of the doubt.

    • Funny/Crazy Viral Videos

       Remember, guns don’t kill people. Nutbags with guns kill people.

      • Nishant

        EXACTLY. I would phrase it this way though: People dont kill people. People with guns kill people.

  • Eli

    Good article, hope it educates some people who have yet to define white privilege. 

  • Jordana Bevan

    i want everyone to come together and have a nice cuddle :( then we won’t hate each other blindly. that’s how it works, right? :( :( 

    • Jordana Bevan

      oh my fucking g0d newt gingrich is such a baffling terrible person i can’t process it, but this is what he said today RE:Obama on Trayvon…
      ““What the president said in a sense is disgraceful.  It’s not a question of who that young man looked like,” Gingrich said. “Any young American of any ethnic background should be safe period. We should all be horrified no matter what the ethnic background. Is the president suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot that would be ok because it didn’t look like him?””

      like, yeah, but white kids don’t get shot like this. thanks, gingrich, for supplying another example for denechia’s article. check your privilege, newt.

      • Mike T.

        the GOP’s fucked up though, no doubts about that ;)

  • kate

    Nice article, both matter of fact and insightful. I hope you write more on here!

  • WK

    Thank you for writing this.  I’m a white woman and I guess I never really thought about what I take for granted.  I hate that we seem to be reverting to the 50s in race and women’s rights, but again, thank you.

  • Rishtopher

    Can someone explain the term “race traitor”? I’ve never heard that in my life.

    • Michaelwg

      I’ve never heard it either, but I assume it would be something like what Eminem is to white people and what Tiger Woods is to black people. Obviously ridiculous, but I think that’s her point.

      • Anonymous

        A race traiter is a black high school student who is the only black girl in all of her AP classes at her suburban white highschool and “talks white” even though she has never known anything else. 

      • Re'Ale

        That’s my life, this is the way I am. The way I talk, look, dress , feel, what I listen to is how I’ve always been I didn’t grow up in the ghetto or have race hate stories. Like you said, being diverse is all I’ve ever known. Sure there are family emmbers who are ghetto to the core or grew up differently than I did, but why does a certain group of people’s behavior sterotyped is the way I should be? why can’t I be me and free without being questione, and up until my 17-20 years of life I was ignorant to fact that “black” people were suppose to be a certain type of way, or I thought I was better cause I was light-skinned or stupid accusations like that. I’ve been this way my entire life and no one gave me any hard time aboout it except really ghetto people or “ghetto-minded” people.

  • Byron Burns

    You taught me something today. I had never heard of White Privilege, and now I understand exactly how to describe to people my feelings on race and society. 

  • Michaelwg

    My cure to easing racial tensions has always been, and will always be, interracial sex.

    • Maiasaura

      I am the daughter of an interracial marriage, and I *love* messing with people’s racial category preconceptions.  

    • mutterhals

      Really, sex is the cure for everything, except possibly AIDs. #dark

    • Anonymous

      And let’s be honest. People with mixed backgrounds tend to be just plain sexy. Mmm Brazilians.

    • Audre Lorde

      See attached image.

  • MW

    One of the best articles I’ve read on Thought Catalog in a while. 

  • nuevayork

    George Zimmerman is not white, and it’s ignorant of anyone to think that the white race should absorb any other race that isn’t black.

    • Anonymous

      George Zimmerman IS white and hispanic, as she stated in the article.

    • educateyourself

      Hispanic is not a racial category. It is an ethnic category that encompasses many different races. You can be Hispanic and be completely white. 

    • nuevayork

      Ignorance at its finest. Thanks for the replies.

  • Beckyhudson83

    I wonder if it were ok to post the exact opposite of this article? racism is on both sides u dumb fucks not just white people and this george zimmerman guy is only half white so why is he automatically a white man? LOOK AT HIM DOES HE FUCKING LOOK LIKE A WHITE PERSON? get the fuck off ya’lls goddamn high horses

    • DYYY

      Seriously? You missed the whole point.

      Please read again. 

      Racism is institutionalized. It’s in our system. Prejudice happens on both sides, but racism can’t.

      • NonPartisan

        Erroneous. Despite what your Sociology 204  professor tells you, racism is a two way street. If you want to talk about institutionalized, look at Affirmative Action. That is institutionalized racism disguised as a way to level the playing field. Compare affirmative action graduation rates with colorblind admission graduation rates. You will find that colorblind admission graduation rates of African American students are SIGNIFICANTLY higher than affirmative action admission graduate rates. This is no coincidence. 

    • Bradders

      Why are you getting so upset?  “White people (AND PEOPLE WHO APPEAR TO BE WHITE) take a number of things for granted”.

      While racism is a two-way street, I don’t think many would disagree with the idea that comments on anothers race coming from any minority group might stem from some sort of negative action/perceived negativity from a white person. Sure that isn’t always the case – there are plain ol’ ignorant people out there – but I’m drawing from personal experience, and that’s the way I tend to see things go down.

    • Anonymous

      you are so eloquent. 

    • Jimbo

      I do agree with you about the way in which mixed individuals are classified.  When speaking with some of my black friends, they have told me that they consider Obama and Blake Griffin to be fully black even though they are not.  However, when this specific topic arose, they considered this man fully white even though he clearly is not.  Maybe this issue is only with my friends, but picking and choosing which mixed individuals to include in your own racial group is pretty ridiculous, especially when one only elects to recognize positive individuals as being in their group while condemning those who do not carry much weight or prestige.  

    • Jimbo

      I do agree with you about the way in which mixed individuals are classified.  When speaking with some of my black friends, they have told me that they consider Obama and Blake Griffin to be fully black even though they are not.  However, when this specific topic arose, they considered this man fully white even though he clearly is not.  Maybe this issue is only with my friends, but picking and choosing which mixed individuals to include in your own racial group is pretty ridiculous, especially when one only elects to recognize positive individuals as being in their group while condemning those who do not carry much weight or prestige.  

    • Jimbo

      I do agree with you about the way in which mixed individuals are classified.  When speaking with some of my black friends, they have told me that they consider Obama and Blake Griffin to be fully black even though they are not.  However, when this specific topic arose, they considered this man fully white even though he clearly is not.  Maybe this issue is only with my friends, but picking and choosing which mixed individuals to include in your own racial group is pretty ridiculous, especially when one only elects to recognize positive individuals as being in their group while condemning those who do not carry much weight or prestige.  

    • KN92

      Out of curiosity, what would the “exact opposite of this article” be, exactly? Black privilege?

    • Karlycatherine

       You said it yourself Becky, racism “is on both sides” Zimmerman is half Hispanic, and anyone who has even a passing knowledge of sociology in the U.S. knows that the black and Hispanic communities in this country are not exactly playing hopscotch with one another. As far as posting the exact opposite of this article-go ahead and try dumbass. YOU are clearly the one who thinks things are black and white if you think that’s even possible-though based on your idiotic comment guess is you’re some sort of water-head who really only does see in black and white.

  • Jjw314

    Thank you for writing something worthwhile in this blog. As a biracial gay male, social privilege on any level (race, gender identity, sexual preference, etc) is an elephant in the room that so many people refuse to talk about or even notice. You have put this into clear, honest, and real terms that I hope can educate and open some minds. Kudos.

  • Anonymous

    I’m pretty horrified by the ignorance of a lot of my friends when it comes to white privilege. I’d never heard that exact term, but the idea has been pretty evident to me for a while. Little comments can be the most dangerous because what starts as a little joke can so quickly escalate to something serious. 

    Excellent article. Thank you.

  • AnnaMariaPhilippeaux

    As a black girl who speaks eloquently, loves dogs, and listens to Bon Iver,  thank you. I appreciate this. 

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I was wondering when an article like this would be out. I’m taking an intro women’s studies class as well and this just rings so true and well with me.

  • Bobbywhiteguy

    this is bullshit! black people are just as racist and stereotype people all the time stop crying and  get the fuck over it! kids die everyday white or black it sucks. 

    • Overherheels

      You sir are the bane of your existence, and your very own ignorance will be your biggest downfall . Wake up and smell the roses, if you think racism is dead look around. Take notice to what you say, and examine your reaction to black people compared to your reaction and conversation with your own race. To assume there’s no difference between the two is stupidity at its finest. You can reject reality if you like, but it does not change the fact that it is there. & in the case of that child who lost his life it should stand testimament that we are in no way living in the world you’d like to believe we are. It’s not as if black people are not racist, the sad fact is that even in the case of prejudice, the racism of the white society will stand in higher esteem than the opinion of the black man.

    • Cloving99

      Aye you wanna stop fuckin with my sister and go back to watching donkey porn?

    • Guestropod

      fuck you

    • lola

      you clearly have never heard of the term reverse racism

  • Lo

    racism’s basic meaning is a hatred or intolerance of another race.
    racism = prejudice + power is a theory of modern academia, and while it is a sensible reaction, it is not a proven fact of life.
    racism can be perpetuated from any angle. 
    i appreciate the ignorance of white privilege and i completely understand that in given situations, it becomes a significant factor. however, this is not the case with everything, and to say it is so would be entirely unfair. 

    i have been harassed time and time again by police simply because i look poor. my uncle was shot a few years ago because the cops believed he was pulling a “gun” from his hoodie- his cell phone was in his hands when they came up to him. he died. i’m not saying there’s no such thing as some kind of white privilege, but this type of preaching generalizes something that is much more complex. 
    but whatever, just my opinion.
    people are startlingly intolerant when it comes to viewpoints on this matter that differ from their own… a sad thing, because i think a lot of progress could be made by simply respectfully trading ideas or exploring other perspectives. 

    i appreciated this article. good stuff.

    • Therapywithalisha

      There is more than just “white privilege”, there can also be privilege based off of class, sexuality, gender, religion, etc…it’s just in this context, this is a privilege that you cannot hide or change.

  • Therapywithalisha

    A great book to go along with this article is “Understanding White Privilege” by Francis Kendall, PhD. We had to read it is my Masters program and I also went to hear her speak at a Cross Cultural conference. She basically explains this term coming from the white perspective, since she is a middle-aged, white, female. Privilege has nothing to do with race or prejudice, it is exactly what it says it is, a privilege. It’s just certain things as a white male, heterosexual female, Christian teenager, upper-class child, or able-bodied individual that you would probably never have to worry about. A child that grew up in a high SES probably never had to worry about not having food, lights being cut off, being evicted, or vehicles being repossessed. Does that make them any better than their poorer classmate?? NO! But they have a privilege and would never fully understand what it feels like to be on the other end of the spectrum. 

    • Dana Sukontarak

      Another more succinct reading some of you guys might want to read, just for quick insight into this subject, is “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh.

      • Therapywithalisha

        Read that one as well…great read!

    • Rachael

      Best comment on this thread.

  • youreallwrong

    This is a horrible article, as is anything promoting the idea of “white male privilege” in 2012.

    I’m a 40 year old white man in NYC.  I’m a non-Jew living in a Jewish neighborhood. I can racially profiled in my OWN neighborhood, that I have lived in my entire life by every new Jew who moves in. Why? Because I am not Jewish and therefore they think it is odd that I am in the neighborhood  and automatically suspicious.  As a teenager, I too was stopped by the neighborhood watch while wearing a hoodie and trying to tap on my friend’s window at 1am to wake him up. 

    I’m 6’3 and have always been fat and long-haired too.  So yes, especially when I was a teenager, women and old people would avoid me, crossing the street or stepping off the elevator.  People won’t sit next to me on the subway, is it because of my fat, or because they think I might smell or might try to touch them?

    Do you think I can go to a park and sit on a bench without being looked at as a child molester?  Think again.   Water parks? Child care jobs?  Forget it. 

    The only college scholarships available to me would be pure academics. I don’t qualify for any of the subtype lower standards scholarships.

    When I go on job interviews, I’m at a disadvantage as every job will be filled by women or minorities as businesses try to keep quotas met,  people are purposely hiring their own kind, or white men are being pressured to feel white guilt and not hire white men. Then, when I’m unemployed, I get people wondering what is wrong with me, that I, the all-powerful white man has no job.

    Go read Time magazine’s cover story about how women are now outearning men before you tell me that “reverse sexism and racism” aren’t real.

    I’d love to be able to walk through life without being held accountable for the sins of the past. Or treated like I have some sort of special treatment in a world where nothing could be further from the truth.

    And your article is totally disingenuous even when relating your own experiences. Talking about how as a black woman you have to fear the police? No, honey, only men have to fear the police. Let’s not even get into the arguments about women committing domestic violence,or sentence comparisons between male and female criminals.

    Do you really think if you weren’t black you could walk into a room tabula rasa? No stupid, you would be judged by your looks, your weight, your accent, your vocabulary.

    If you happen to be black or you happen to be female, or worse yet BOTH and you happen to be reading this piece of
    writing, be grateful for the privileges that your skin color and genitalia affords

    • Guestropod

      sorry your life sucks, but you’re full of shit and you don’t understand anything about what it means to be black and/or what it means to be a woman

      • youreallwrong

         I understand what its like to be black and whats its like to be a woman in the exact same way as they would understand what its like to be a white male.

    • Guestropod

      sorry your life sucks, but you’re full of shit and you don’t understand anything about what it means to be black and/or what it means to be a woman

      • youreallwrong

         I understand what its like to be black and whats its like to be a woman in the exact same way as they would understand what its like to be a white male.

    • Olivia

      Void just because of the name calling.

      • youreallwrong

        you mean “void because I have no actual response to your valid points so I will harp on your spelling errors/ grammar/ vulgarity / use of the word stupid” right?

        Yeah, I’ve seen that on the internet before.  You would have been better off not replying, but since you did, it proves you read the whole thing and have no valid response.  So Thanks!

      • lola

        I think you fail to accept that while everyone experiences prejudice of some sort, some groups experience harsher, more oppressive and  more violent forms of prejudice. And being fat and having long hair IS a choice. Saying that you will still be ‘fugly’ nonetheless is just an excuse. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being overweight and with having long hair, but that can change very easily if you wanted it to. Danachia can’t change her skin color and the thing she is trying to point out is: she is not trying to make skin color a part of her identity, as you have made your weight and the length of your hair.
        To me, this just sounds like retorts from a very angry, very sad man.

        Saying that racism and sexism no longer exist as dominant and very consequential forms of prejudice is rather ignorant.

    • guest

      It sucks that you have had to deal with profiling in your own neighbor hood and it also sucks that you have had to deal with being made to feel unwelcome and unwanted. Yes, I did read the time article and it was an interesting revelation. However, somethings the article mentioned are important to be mentioned – it said that it isn’t time to rejoice just yet because women still earn 81% of what men earn. What it did not mention was that this is not telling of what colored women earn – almost 69 cents to the white man’s dollar. You say that a colored woman should be grateful for the privileges that her genitalia and skin color offer her. How about the higher rate of sexual abuse and domestic violence that also comes with those same characteristics. Should colored women be grateful for that too?

      You say that you haven’t enjoyed any kind of special treatment? Think again. I am sure your life has not been easy, as you spent considerable time explaining that it hasn’t been. I agree that prison sentences for women are unfairly lenient when compared to men’s and I do not support that. I do think that as far as the law is concerned, if a person commits a crime, the punishment should be equal. Just like if some one works the same amount of hours and puts in the same effort, the pay should be equal. Now going back to talking about the privilege you say you don’t enjoy – you can walk home alone at night without fearing rape. Yes, there are people who rape men, too but the number of women targeted is disgustingly high. Not trying to say that belittles the dangers little boys or some men face, but the numbers point to a privilege that you DO enjoy.

      And you complain about being judged and looked down upon for being fat and having long hair. You have an issue with a colored woman expressing her feelings about being profiled. Do you know what the difference here is? She did not choose to be a woman or colored. It was a part of who she is even before she left her mother’s womb. Your hair and your weight? Honey, you made the decision to keep it long and give up exercise. So, you are dealing with prejudice that is a cause of your own actions. About not being Jewish and feeling left out in your own community, well yes, that has nothing to do with you. Maybe when you get side glances for being that odd one out, you will see how a colored woman feels in a white male dominated field.

      • youreallwrong

         Studies have shown that almost all of the wage gap between men and women of equal experience working the same job and having the same benefits can be explained by men actually negotiating their starting salary and asking for raises more frequently.

        In white neighborhoods, will I be treated better by the police than a black male but worse than a white woman? ABSOLUTELY.

        You mention that rape is almost exclusively a female problem and not a male one.
        I agree.
        Dying in combat is almost exclusively a male problem and not a female one.

        Which is my point in a nutshell. There is no tabula rasa. Every one, every color, every gender, every body type, every religion, every sexual orientation, every EVERYTHING has prejudices and privileges associated with it. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.  We all deal with things. There’s always someone worse off than us. Just deal with it.

        And yeah, I “chose” to be fat and long haired, the same way women
        “choose” to dress slutty or black guys “choose” to dress thuggy. If I was thinner and short haired, I’m still fugly, and I’m still male, so I very well might still be labeled or feared as all sorts of horrible demons.

        Privilege comes from wealth at birth. Period. If you’re born to the “1%” (sigh, shoot me) you have privilege no matter what color you are. If you’re born in poverty, you have a huge disadvantage no matter what color you are.  Are there currently more rich white people and poor black people? yes.
        But calling it white privilege or black disadvantage is unfair to the 80% of people who compose the middle class.

      • a white girl

        Dude, you have white privilege. Accept it. Stop trying to win the Discrimination Olympics. 

      • youreallwrong

         Girl, there is no such thing as white privilege. Stop feeling guilty because someone else told you that you had an easier life than they had.

        Do you think I walk around posting my sob-stories everywhere? No. I only do this when people hit me with theirs. Or tell me “how lucky I am” over and over.

        White privilege as a concept is just as annoying and racist as if I were to say “Blacks are lazy criminals who eat chicken and rape women while collecting unemployment.”  

        It is THAT offensive.  It is THAT divisive. It is THAT racist.

        I’m just trying to help you guys understand that, the same way you guys are trying to help “white people” understand “they have privilege”

      • Rachael

        There are things called ‘marginalized groups’ in society – ie queers, women, racial minorities, religious minorities. These groups have had to fight for rights such as the right to vote, rights for equality, and have been/still are discriminated against in certain scenarios. 
        I have white privilege. I have straight privilege. I do not have male privilege. I can acknowledge my privileges because I actually understand the concept.

        We all have hardships, we all encounter stereotypes, but by acknowledging your privilege you can actually learn to empathize with other groups unlike yourself and better understand their experiences. 

      • Bailey

        This is so awesome and on point.

      • Anonymous

        You’re comparing the possibility of dying in combat to the possibility of being raped?  That’s very worrying sir.

      • KN92

        As a black “woman” (I’m 19, I hardly consider myself an adult) my main issue with your comment is this:

        “You mention that rape is almost exclusively a female problem and not a male one. I agree. Dying in combat is almost exclusively a male problem and not a female one.”

        “And yeah, I “chose” to be fat and long haired, the same way women 
        “choose” to dress slutty or black guys “choose” to dress thuggy. ”
        More men are in the military than women, that is factual, therefore of course the statistics reflect that. But by saying things like “rape is almost exclusively a female problem” and equating that with military deaths, you’re basically blaming the women who are sexually assaulted or raped for being women or dressing a certain way, and that’s fucked up beyond measure. You have control over being fat and long haired. Have some fucking responsibility for your actions, man. Women don’t “choose” to be raped. I get that you’re trying to say that you’re being judged simply for being the way you are, which should never happen even though it persistently does, but any time you try to compare yourself to something like rape, or people losing their lives in order to protect others, you should probably stop yourself first because you’re bound to lose. 

        Okay, bye.

      • Karlycatherine

        You sir are a massive cunt. Don’t assume that as a white female I’ll be treated better by police officers, as a matter of fact I’ve been sexually harrased and groped by several of them in the last ten years. (I am 27)  Dying in combat is NOT the same as rape homeskillet.  FIRST off, enlisting in the military is ones choice. (And many women have protested the right to fight right alongside men)Not only that the number of soldiers killed in combat is a FRACTION of the number of women raped every year. Your comment about “choosing to dress slutty” is pure ignorance and evil-how DARE you even put those two things together. You are clearly a spoiled rotten little punk. Please FUCK OFF.

      • Karlycatherine

         One more thing, based on your post I’ll go ahead and assume that you think being a female, particularly an attractive one is always some sort of magical blessing. Well I’m going to go ahead and toot my own horn and tell you this much I am attractive. I wasn’t always so I’ve been on both sides of the fence and can tell you the constant discrimination of the male gaze for pretty and ugly women is no blessing. It’s a constant burden and until you’ve lost a job because YOU were being hassled by your employer, groped by law enforcement , or constantly heckled by strangers I don’t want to hear you bitch. The unremarkable looking white male has it all-anonymity and the respect and potential to be recognized for his work and personality. Suck it dude.

      • Xsandyfishnetsx

         Not just like, LOVE this comment.

    • James

      Is fatness really comparable to blackness though? I mean, unless someone is born with a hormonal imbalance of some sort…

      I’m not saying that fat people deserve to be negatively stereotyped, but it’s sort of like a smoker talking about how people shouldn’t complain about racism because it’s harder to get hired and keep a job when you have to have a smoke break every 15 minutes. 

      Also, the obvious difference between “stopped by neighborhood watch while tapping on the window of a house” and “shot in the back by neighborhood watch after buying skittles” is pretty self-evident, though perhaps not to someone so blinded by white privilege :P

      But I mean, we all like to be the victim

      • youreallwrong

        Well, the facts are all out on the Trayvon case, and both sides and the media are doing their best to make sure we never find the truth, BUT

        if the witnesses are to be believed, and Trayvon was attacking the guy (possibly in self-defense) then that’s where you comparison is off.

        When I was stopped, I pulled down my hood, and spoke to the person. Explaining who I was and why I was there.

        It sounds like when Trayvon was being followed, he put up his hood and took off. And when Zimmerman found him again,  depending on which side you believe, Trayvon may have turned the altercation physical or allowed it to become physical.

        Yes, Zimmerman was clearly looking for a fight, and should be held accountable for his premeditated actions, but its quite likelyTrayvon did nothing to help his own cause.

      • you'rewrongtoo

        Are you trying to justify wearing a hoodie as a reason to be followed and then shot by a “neighbourhood ‘watchdog” nutjob roaming the streets with a gun? He shouldn’t have had to do anything to “help his cause.” There was no cause to begin with, oh, unless you count racism.

      • mutterhals

        Even if Trayvon had been up to no good this Zimmerman guy was told repeatedly to let the police handle it, so for that reason alone he was in the wrong.

    • Dana Sukontarak

      For starters, there’s no way you can say this is a horrible article — it’s quite insightful and well written. I just think that many of the people to whom the issues at hand do not apply may feel uncomfortable reading this. White privilege is certainly very alive and real, and anyone who denies that is just as much at fault for perpetuating the racial divide as is this author.
      @00d8849113aa17cd81c08993d103e3d7:disqus You are certainly able to lose weight and work harder to take the advantages of the opportunities that are implicitly provided to you in your life as a white man, unlike people of color who are unable to ever shake certain stigmas. It is foolish to concern yourself with the minority scholarships and “preferential treatment” in hiring etc. that us non-whites should feel so “lucky” to have. Those are society’s way of “throwing minorities a bone,” but whites still have the whole damn chicken, and you’d be naive to believe they don’t. And by the way, not only men need fear the police. One of my good friends is black with dreadlocks and she is constantly pulled over by the police, and often searched for reasons like “Your car smells like cat urine, which is the smell of methamphetamines”… Does that sound right to you?

    • Rachael

      Reverse sexism and racism actually doesn’t exist. Take a college course on diversity, race, or gender and you should understand this concept. 

  • Anonymous

    This article does bring up something that’s worth really thinking about. Yet, I think it’s not fair to completely ascribe the unfortunate prejudice black people bear to white privilege, because everything that happens must have a reason. For example, as a matter of fact, the black community does have a higher crime rates (I personally got robbed two times by some black kids  in NYC and San Francisco). Although not every black person commits crime, you can’t blame people that much for having such stereotype in mind, given that it’s human nature we tend to generalize things to understand the world. I am not going to discuss the historic reasons as to why black people have higher crime rates, lower social status due to years of cruel slavery, but I am sure that this racism and discrimination thing could be ameliorated (given the fact that Asians are getting better in this country due to their hard work and they are also minority and had even lower social status than blacks years ago). What I am trying to say is, besides rigorously fighting against the issue of racism, the black community also needs to do some introspection and then work hard to  improve their own lives,  although this pursuit of better life for black people could be harder than for white people.

    • Jane Doe

       I totally agree. I’m black and but I also self examine and work on the things that I know will bring me success in life. I really don’t experience a lot of what some blacks complain about and a lot of it is due to a little luck from being middle class and raised well but also because I understand what helps one to succeed in life and I work to develop those traits. I’m not perfect and still am a work in progress, but for the most part, people treat me respectfully because I look like I want to get somewhere in life and I develop myself in ways that create the opportunities for myself. In essence, this minimizes racism and discrimination. I know I may experience it on a subtle level at times, but who doesn’t?  I have a lot going for me so that whenever I’m knocked down, I can get back up again and do better than before.  Not by luck but by the privilege of what I’ve invested into myself. This is why I don’t sit around and rant about unfairness of racism like a some folks do.

      In ways blacks do need to compare themselves and it’s good that they notice there are inequities. However, those identified inequities are the very things we need to work on to close the gap.  It may not be easy but nothing worthwhile is. It’s always better to start very small and work your way up than to start large and lose steam. 

    • Xsandyfishnetsx

       As a member of the Asian community, I would like to comment on this whole view of Asians as the ideal minority. Asians have accumulated many positive connotations in America. However, as a female I have been exoticized in the media, deemed a dragon lady, have had had happy-endings expected of me. I have been reduced to a fetish. While my male counter-parts have been emasculated as nerdy. My point is, even though we have improved our status in the eyes of the white majority we still suffer from harmful stereotypes. 
      I would also like to point out that there are many different Asian cultures, not just Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. These are the races most will assume financial stability with(although this is not always true.) Those of Viet, Hmong, Cambodian, lao, fillipino, and other south asian backgrounds have not yet achieved this status and still struggle for assimilation and acceptance. This is a very complex matter dealing with family structure and image, but it is a truth that should not go ignored.
      I empathize with this article because I have been around white/hispanic/black friends who have dealt upon me the sting of racism. Not jokes, but negative beliefs that they had attached to my culture. I do not eat dogs, I do not know kung-fu, and I will not love you long time.

      • thai person


  • Kennedy

    Sorry, but when you try to write an article like this and say negative things about whites, you’re only perpetuating the racial divide. Seriously, take your “holier-than-thou” attitude and go hang out with your educated friends… because obviously one can only be educated if they fully understand race issues.

    • Bobbie

      What did she say that was negative?

      • Kennedy

        The third paragraph paints her white friends as being ignorant, and later when she brings up the “white power” thing, she makes them seem, once again, like they’re uneducated racists. As they’re the only white people she specifically talks about in her article, it gives off the impression that she feels that way about most whites.

      • Anonymous

        The friends the writer describes are ignorant and worse, sound incurious. There is no implication in the article that she feels white people generally are prejudiced; any inference to the contrary is the reader’s alone. 

  • Jeremy Sheeler

    Race is not a Social Construct; it is a Natural Construct based on geographical location and exposure to sunlight formed over thousands of years of history.  

    Race being associated with certain traits (stereotypes) is due to the interplay between Race and Culture.
    Up until very recently in world history, Cultures were more or less homogeneous, as far as Race, so it is not necessarily wrong to assume that when you meet someone for the first time that they will hold certain cultural traits based on their Race. 

    Racism, however, is a Social Construct, but only in the same way that Culture is one as well–it is something by its very nature which cannot exist without Society. However, Society is not the initial cause of the disparities between Cultures and Races; Society simply institutionalizes the natural differences and exacerbates them in unnatural ways, to unnatural proportions.

    (And yes, the designations for the different Races are, of course, Socially Constructed, but so is categorization for anything: dogs, fruits, vegetables, tress, flowers, etc; so this insight is essentially meaningless, as is Social Construction Theory, in general.)

    Unless we can create a new one-world-homogeneous Culture–which would mean completely discarding all the old Cultures or fully synthesizing them somehow–then people will continue to be stereotyped based on appearance and presumed to hold certain traits that their appearance suggests.   

    • Blarg

      Just to clear it up, ”
      Among humans, race has no taxonomic significance; all living humans belong to the same hominid subspecies, Homo sapiens sapiens “.  so unless your a honey bee, you have no biological, taxonomic race.

      that’s from wikipedia by the way, doesn’t take very long to be informed using the interwebs.

  • CC

    This article is excellent and you should feel good. A very down-to-earth and reasonable presentation – I think so much about white privilege and race that I forget sometimes so many people don’t understand it (which, you could say, is another manifestation of my white privilege – the privilege of forgetting that racism exists.) I hope you launch your blog soon! 

    I am scrolling over the other comments because they look like they’ll destroy my faith in humanity. 

  • Anonymous

    where are half of you living? i mean come on. who actually doesn’t know what white privilege is or the general, pretty fucking obvious white-people-have-conquered-a-lot-of-shit idea behind it? maybe you should find some new friends. here’s another social misconception: college educated ≠ intelligent.

    sure, they may be non-KKK, only recreationally racist, generally good people, but if they really have spent the past 25 years in complete ignorance of the advantages to being NOT black–not even to being white, for christ’s sake…i hate to be the one to tell you,  but you have REALLY DUMB FRIENDS. find better ones.

  • Waicool

    filed under race baiter

    next up “Trayvon Martin and Gun Control”

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