Trying to understand white privilege was a totally different journey than the process of understanding that my kids won’t have that same privilege.
I am not sad for my kid. My baby is exactly who she is supposed to be. She’s an intelligent and capable little person. But you can be certain I don’t want to be blindsided by how the world treats my kids…which means I needed to understand more about how the world treats me.
What is white privilege?
I have seen it expressed a lot of different ways. I like to explain it to my students like this: Imagine someone in a wheelchair. The wheelchair has no bearing on their character; the person in the wheelchair could be your soulmate, or a total jerk. But their situation does force them to take special consideration when entering buildings, for example. It could cause them to be less likely to be accepted for jobs or certain positions.
…Being white, I have a certain given advantage. Not because I am a perfect person. Just because of my color. I am less likely to be pulled over, more likely to be given a loan, more likely to be given an apartment when applying for one, more likely to be accepted to a university, as compared to someone of color with my same qualifications.
What can I expect if my kids do not have white privilege?
- I can expect different pricing for dolls and action figures for “ethnic” dolls as compared to white/blonde dolls. (Charging more and less both suck. Just charge the same price for both…) And I can expect availability to be a problem. For example: In 2014, American Girl retired Ivy, the only Asian American doll they made.
- I can expect people to occasionally say something racist when meeting my child or husband for the first time.
- Packing lunch is a notoriously uncomfortable time for many Asian-Americans, who are interrogated about the look and smell of their food. My kid might ask me not to pack some of her favorite foods for school.
- I can expect to search for politicians, actors, astronauts, etc. who look like them.
- I can expect to be nervous when my kids discuss Chinese-American relations in current events or history class, and wonder if they will have a teacher who is sensitive to our kids’ perspectives.
- I will worry about my childrens’ aptitude in math, and the unwanted comments that they will get whether they are good at math or bad.
- I have to expect that different thought and work will be needed to ensure that my daughter grows up with a healthy self-identity and a proud view of her heritage.
Privilege, Power and Difference, by Allan Johnson
Understanding White Privilege, byFrancie Kendall
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, by Peggy McIntosh