White privilege is real. And while I don’t think that the MTV documentary about white privilege looks too compelling, it’s at least… something.
I’m white and I am well aware that there are inherent things I will never have to deal with. I’ll admit that as a teenager, or even as a young woman in college, I wasn’t nearly as aware of this privilege as I am today.
I grew up in a family that was incredibly open about all human rights issues, so I was well aware that certain people, especially white people, have it much easier than others. But I still couldn’t fathom just how good white people had it until the advent of cell phone cameras. Sure, I learned about apartheid and racial discrimination in school, but I had never seen police officers brutally throw a young black woman to the ground at a pool party until just a few months ago.
Since the creation of the hashtag #blacklivesmatter and the sickening number of shootings that have happened in the black community this year, the topic of white privilege has been broached more than a few times. I, for one, want it to be. I want people to call me out if I say something ignorant about the black experience. However, not all white people think that white privilege is an actual thing. I suppose I get that — it’s easy to hide from uncomfortable truths.
I think that this NPR piece hit the nail on the head about white privilege. Many white people get uncomfortable when the topic of race comes up. This is silly. Whenever we treat anything as a taboo (hello, American sex ed), people shy away for the topic. Whites need to get over their insecurities and listen. Because after all, no one is going to hate you for not knowing something — but people will disrespect you if you refuse to listen or learn. (On that note, take a listen to the first 10 minutes of a recent episode of the Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast — it’s a great example of how people can have a conversation about #blacklivesmatter and white privilege respectfully.)
The NPR piece also states something about white privilege that makes a lot of sense: Many white people think when you say they are privileged, you are talking about how financially well off they are. Having inherent privileges because of the color of your skin does not mean everything is good for you — it’s a hard concept for many to grasp.
And that’s why I don’t think this MTV “documentary” looks so bad. These kids remind me of the teens I went to high school with. They all live in a bubble that allows them to think that white people are being discriminated against, and that they are always in danger of saying something racist. People who think like this should have a mirror put up to their actions and not be mocked, but be challenged to think about the topic at hand. So, while I don’t think this MTV doc will be talked about for years to come, it at least is one piece of media that is examining white privilege, and we do need more of that.
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