January 2016

This is a reflection I’ve written for the Family, School, and Neighborhood Engagement Scholars I work with. Read my introduction to these here.

Prompt

  • Now that you’ve had a little bit of an overview and discussion on white privilege and inequality, take time to talk about what next steps for you might be.
  • What was one takeaway point from either the article or the discussion?

ResponseCenter for Service and Learning. Sam H. Jones Community Service Scholarship Program Jacket

January’s training was led by Myron Duff, who is an exceptional person. He had us read the article “White Privilege Shapes the US” by Robert Jensen beforehand, and most of our discussion focused on white privilege.


As a white person, I do benefit from white privilege in ways that I don’t always notice. Part of my responsibility is to “check” my privileges. I’ve always found the article “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh to be a helpful reminder of my privileges as a white person.

In the past few years, I believe I have gotten to the point where I can acknowledge my privilege and how it benefits me constantly.

However, I’ve always had difficulty in figuring out what my next steps are, and I’m stuck.

But I do have a few ideas on what my next steps might be, and if you have ideas, please let me know. These are only ideas; they are NOT perfect, and they can always be changed.

  • Continue to check my privilege.
  • Listen to people of color.
    • And I don’t mean to stop talking when they start talking. I mean to actually listen to them. They can tell their stories better than I ever could. They can tell us what they need, and they don’t need me imposing on them what I think they need.
    • Also, don’t force people of color to speak out of the blue and if they don’t want to. Don’t force them to speak for everyone of their race. Each person’s journey through life is unique, and they can’t speak for everyone’s experiences just like I can’t speak for every white person’s experience. But if they do speak, listen to them and believe them.
  • Stand up when I see racial injustices happening.
    • And no, I don’t mean just major racist things. I mean everyday microaggressions, stopping people from planning racist-themed events, etc.
    • And don’t just yell at them. Do what you can to educate people. Some people won’t want to engage with you, but try to be persistent. There aren’t people who are beyond learning.
  • Educate Myself.
    • I don’t know everything there is to know about race, social justice, and equity, so I should always be looking to learn more.
  • Don’t contribute to the system of inequity as much as possible.
    • One hard truth about acknowledging my privilege is knowing that it does benefit me in ways I probably won’t ever see and know.
    • This point isn’t easy because I haven’t found a how-to manual on it. Being conscious that racial inequity exists is one thing, but walking through the rest of my life not doing anything about it just makes it worse.

Those are some ideas I have about my next steps.

If you have questions, are confused about something, or just want to learn more, here are a few things to check out:

Kat Blaque

Everyday Feminism

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

On a Plate by Toby Morris


Here are a couple of takeaways I have from the discussion and article:

  • The idea of race and racial inequality is different based on what country you’re from.
    • Probably even what city.
  • Even if I do work super hard to reach a certain level, I have been given a boost by my whiteness somewhere along the way.

This is a long, but really important reflection. I put it off because I was scared of what the reaction to it might be. That’s okay, because this discussion isn’t really about me and my feelings; it’s much bigger than that.

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