In a perfect world, having an advantage over another due to the color of one’s skin would be nonexistent. We don’t live in a perfect world.
White privilege began the moment European settlers asserted themselves over Native Americans. Throughout American history, white privilege was tangibly relevant. The days of slavery. Sharecropping and plantations. Japanese concentration camps in WWII. Jim Crow laws. The Caucasian race has remained at the top of America’s societal totem poll. There’s a large argument for class here, so I’ll touch that lightly.
We have to understand white privilege does not mean “all white people have it grand.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. Poverty does not care who it touches, and this includes white people. Most white people will balk at any notion that white skin benefits them. Especially those of the lower and middle classes. If poverty has touched me or I’m struggling to pay my bills, then how am I privileged? If I’m working just as hard, if not harder, than my counterparts, then how do I have an advantage? What is the benefit of being white?
The benefit of the doubt.
That doesn’t seem like much. Especially in 2018 where people honestly believe every American has equal opportunities (They’re woefully wrong). However, the benefit of the doubt can mean life and death. In less intense situations, white privilege is implanted in the fabric of American society in several different areas. From the idea that people of color occupy the majority of welfare, to being seen as a criminal while shopping, there are some situations white people won’t experience. They get the benefit of the doubt.
This may anger some, and rightfully so. No one wants their hard work attributed to their skin color. Conversely, no one wants to be deemed less competent because of their skin color. The problem with the idea of white privilege is its immersion in perception. Perception is shaped by experience which means it can be relentlessly argued because experiences differ. Throngs of people, regardless of race, resist the idea of white privilege because their experience tells them otherwise. This begs a question.
Does white privilege exist?
Yes, it does. The very idea of white privilege exposes the perception of differential treatment between whites and people of color. This perception was an American reality until the day Jim Crow laws were deemed illegal. This is the day legal, palpable distinctions in treatment regressed to an idea. Fast forward to current days, and this idea is a myth to some and a phenomenon to others. A lot of people fail to realize several systems fail people of color all the time. The justice system being one of them. So much so that cases are being overturned regarding wrongly accused black men who were killed for false accusations.
Clearly, there are still race issues in America no matter how much people try to be colorblind. The complexity of these issues only deepen as we further ourselves from the day of Jim Crow. Nonetheless, these issues are real even when people refuse to believe it. Just ask someone about white privilege.
They’ll tell you it doesn’t exist.