Along with some other members of a Facebook group that I am a part of I have been posting a white privilege every day for a month. Today is the last day. In case you mssed it, here is the recap of my month.
// Day 1// When a product is labeled “flesh” or “nude” colored, I am guaranteed to easily find it in my skin color (band-aids, nylons, make-up, underwear and bras). Anywhere that sells these things, sells them in my color and has for my whole life.
// Day 2 // Growing up, when I went to Sunday School all of the images of Jesus and others from the Bible looked like me even though it’s extremely doubtful that they actually did.
// Day 3 // When I was a teenager, my friends and I poured over magazines like Seventeen, YM, and Cosmopolitan. In all of these magazines, every hair tip, make-up tip and the advertising was clearly written for people of my race.
Until I started subscribing to Ebony, I had no idea that product advertisers made separate ads to use in specific magazines. All the magazines I read before used mostly ads with white people, even though they were – in theory – magazines for everyone. And that is exactly why magazines like Ebony and Essence are necessary.
// Day 4 // When I have a rash, bump, or other skin condition, I can easily find images with examples of what that skin condition would look like on my skin tone. I quickly found out when Maya had a rash that this would not be the case for her.
// Day 5 // My parents never asked about diversity in any school I ever attended. The idea that overall diversity would have mattered or that the specific makeup of a student body would have a bearing on my development was simply a non issue.
Now, as a mother of Black children, diversity is a high priority for me when looking at schools for my children. Nearly all of the racist incidents that my children have faced in the last 3 years have been at their Christian schools, where there was not much racial diversity.
// Day 6 // When I go to buy a greeting card, almost all of the cards that feature people or hands or children, use people with my skin color. If you want Black people on a greeting card, you have to go to the special section (that is if that store carries Mahogany). When I was looking for a graduation card for my son, over half of the cards were automatically out because of the images. This left me with very few to chose from that had the sentiment I wanted. I had to find a card without any people on it and from a parent.
// Day 7 // My parents never had to teach me that people might make assumptions about me based on the color of my skin. They never explained racism to me because they didn’t have to. I don’t have to think about or learn about race if I don’t want to.
// Day 8 // I can drive any type of car, any way I want and I won’t be judged or pulled over more often because of my race. In fact, I drive 10 over the speed limit, pretty much always, but I can’t even remember the last time I was pulled over. If I am pulled over, I know it will be no big deal. There’s virtually no chance that I’ll be questioned about my reasons for being in that area, my immigration status, or asked to exit my car. More than likely, I’ll just get a warning.
// Day 9 // Just last week, I took my daughter to a private neighborhood’s playground in a neighborhood that we do not live. No one questioned me or if I belonged there. It isn’t the first time that I’ve done that. I can walk, ride my bike, drive my car anywhere and have no one give me a second glance for “not belonging.”
// Day 10 // I can purchase items from a store and walk out holding the items in my hand or putting them in my purse without holding the receipt and no one will stop me thinking that I am shoplifting.
// Day 11 // I can walk down the sidewalk or sit in my car to wait for someone and the color of my skin will not cause anyone to feel threatened, fearful, or suspicious. People don’t cross the street when they see me coming or clutch their bag closer to them.
// Day 12 // There is not a slang word used to describe people of my race that is deeply offensive to me, reminds me of my place in society or brings up a history of oppression.
Although I’ve been called a few slang words here and there, I do not remember the first time it happened because it didn’t pack a punch. I will always remember the first time it happened to my son and he will too. Hoping and praying that we have a long way to go before it happens to my daughter too.
// Day 13 // I can be late bringing my child to school and not have to worry that my tardiness as a parent will be generalized to apply to all mothers of my race.
// Day 14 // If I’m in a room full of white people and something potentially racist happens, everyone doesn’t look to me to determine whether it was offensive. My white privilege is not having to display offense on behalf of my race.
// Day 15 // I am viewed as an individual. My behaviors and accomplishments, whether good or bad, are attributed to me personally. Nobody expects me to be an athlete, musician, dancer, or scholar (or lazy, loud, poor, or a thief) based on stereotypes about my race.
// Day 16 // As a child, it was easy for me to go into a bookstore or library and find hundreds of books with characters that looked and talked just like me. I recently got a library card and it takes me nearly 30 minutes to find 2-3 books that I feel are appropriate for Maya. Books with at least a couple characters who look like her or books that have animal characters. I also have to actually like the book, the illustrations and the message.
// Day 17 // Almost every authority figure I have ever dealt with – principal, doctor, postmaster, social worker, judge – has shared my race. This didn’t surprise me, rather it seemed pretty ordinary until I thought about it.
// Day 18 // White privilege is getting upset because a fictional movie character is cast as a person of color (no longer looks like you), but not even noticing that in historical movies like Exodus, the ancients from Africa are depicted as (mostly) white people.
// Day 19 // For years of my schooling, I was taught the history of people who look like me from their perspective. While people of other ethnicities and races were mentioned only briefly. The entire history of Africa’s 54 countries are boiled down to a few of sentences.
At my private Christian school, we didn’t even have Black History Month. The history of people who look like me is not contained in one small month nor is it focused on our difficulties instead of our accomplishments.
// Day 20 // I can choose to live in a universe where people actually believe that “not seeing color” or being “colorblind” is somehow an anti-racist and an anti-racism stance.
// Day 21 // White privilege is becoming an adult before realizing that “One Little, Two Little, Three Little Indians” is not a cute little counting song, but a disgusting racist song. White privilege is ignoring this and continuing to teach it to children year after year because it doesn’t affect you.
// Day 22 // When I was accepted into my small, private university, no one implied, assumed or outright asked if I got in because of my race. I got in based on my grades and test scores. No one thought otherwise.
// Day 23 // White privilege allows white children to play with toy guns in public and they’re just pretending to be cowboys, army men or cops and robbers. Chris spent many days in his childhood, running through empty lots and drainage areas with toy guns and sometimes setting off firecrackers with no incident.
A Black child playing with the a toy gun is viewed as suspicious. Tamir Rice, who was 12 years old, was shot dead in less than 2 seconds.
// Day 24 // I have never been concerned about putting my legal name on a resume, or have otherwise worried about how I introduce myself by name in a professional setting.
In addition, I don’t have to wonder if I am being paid less than my co-workers, even though I have been with the company years longer, simply because of my race (real life example, from a close friend of mine.)
// Day 25 // No one has ever given me a compliment (you speak well, you have pretty hair) and followed it up with “for a white person” (or even implied such a thing).
Telling an adult that they are articulate for speaking the same way that you do or being surprised that someone who doesn’t look like you uses certain vocabulary or is knowledgeable about a subject.
// Day 26 // No one touches or attempts to touch my hair without my permission. I am not expected to allow a stranger to pet me or ask questions about my personal grooming that are none of their business. My personal space is respected. #mywhiteprivilege #everydayinjune
Furthermore if someone does touch my hair, the comments that follow do not extend the insult. A shocked and surprised, “Wow!! It is so soft!” is not a compliment.
// Day 27 // Thinking that our children will be fine because we are “raising them right.” “Just teach him to obey the law and everything will be fine.” “Talking about racism makes it worse.” You are “being too sensitive.” “You are giving your children a chip on their shoulder.” It’s easy to deny things that make you feel uncomfortable because getting to feel comfortable in almost any situation is a privilege that we don’t even realize exists.
// Day 28 // I can pretend America began with white colonization and know I “belong” here (although every white person in the USA is an immigrant or a descendant of an immigrant). No one tells me to go back to my country. I am an American and no one questions that. When people ask, “Where are you from?” and I say, “Texas.” no one says, “No, where are you REALLY from?”
// Day 29 // Because we weren’t aware of our privilege and we were naive, Chris and I were surprised that speaking out about racism and privilege would eventually cause us to lose a large part of our family and inspire people we love to defend racism. White privilege is being able to debate the fact that white privilege exists while every other race knows it for a fact.
// Day 30 // It has been an amazing month! I get to post this then tomorrow and every day after that, I don’t have to think about my race, my whiteness, and the advantages I’ve gotten because of it, ever again. And that is the ultimate #mywhiteprivilege.