Acknowledging privilege is difficult. It implicates you in the act of oppression, and very few want to think of themselves as oppressors. But if you dislike racism, yet do little — if anything — to resist it, you’re enabling racial oppression and benefitting from it. This not only harms people of color. It also harms white people and their humanity.
“We may be uncomfortable talking about race, but we can no longer afford to be silent. We have chosen a profession, which—like parenting—requires that our comforts come second to those of children.”
Diversity is the practice of mixing together different bodies within a common organization, and is a prime resource to be capitalized upon by businesses and organizations that are white owned and/or operated. Diversity still benefits those in power by taking advantage of the various experiences and vantage points of different racial/gender/sexual backgrounds. Rather than respecting difference and redistributing power based on it, diversity only “celebrates” difference in order to exploit multiculturalism for its economic value.
So why do so many people seeking racial justice, female empowerment, and queer liberation still choose to advocate for “diversity” and “inclusion”? They appeal to liberalism. They prevent oppression from being named. They prevent us from speaking truth to power. They make progress sound friendly to those in power. Companies can tokenize women and people of color throughout their advertising. They can get way more credit than they deserve for being not 100% white men. They can profit from the increases in efficiency and productivity associated with more diversity. All of the above ignore the fact that companies needed to have diversity initiatives to make them less overwhelmingly white in the first place; that white people are the ones in the position of being able to grant access in the first place. When we work for justice and liberation, we can’t accept progress that is conditional on being economically beneficial.
What is it that makes such good intentions so hard to listen to?
Here is another article/opinion on “White Privilege II”:
How harmless choices can make a harmful world:
I am sharing this because the Cultural Competency class ends with a panel on privilege, privilege awareness, and some examples of how to use our privilege(s) constructively, for good, for social justice.
As an educator who believes in calling people in rather than calling them out, I sometimes hesitate to share articles that have a calling-out vibe/tone (see #3 in this article). At the same time, the message is worth sharing, and I also want to avoid tone-policing because as a relatively light skinned, “ambiguously ethnic” immigrant, I have many privileges. Perhaps had I spent a lifetime rather than half a lifetime in this country as a darker skinned person, I would be more curt in my tone, too, especially if I were a writer for an online journal and not a high school teacher.
Read on and let me know what you think in the comments section if you feel so moved. Oh, and this isn’t just for white folks; it’s also for anyone in dominant groups in terms of socioeconomic status, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, nationality/citizenship, age, ability/able bodiedness, religion,…etc.