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Day 7: 21 Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge

Welcome to Day 7.  Missing something?  Go here to start Day 1 and here for yesterday.

"Privilege exists when one group has something of value that is denied to others simply because of the groups they belong to, rather than because of anything they've done or failed to do. Access to privilege doesn't determine one's outcomes, but it is definitely an asset that makes it more likely that whatever talent, ability, and aspirations a person with privilege has will result in something positive for them." ~Peggy McIntosh

Privilege is often called the flipside of racism, examples of privilege is being able to...

  • assume that most of the people you or your children study in history classes and textbooks will be of the same race, gender, or sexual orientation as you are
  • assume that your failures will not be attributed to your race or your gender
  • assume that if you work hard and follow the rules, you will get what you deserve
  • succeed without other people being surprised and without being held to a higher standard
  • go out in public without fear of being harassed or constantly worried about physical safety
  • not have to think about your race, or your gender, or your sexual orientation, or disabilities, on a daily basis

Have you thought about privilege before? Do you think there really is a bias that allows an advantage or privilege? Have you ever been in a situation where you were in the minority?  Did it feel different? How do you think your privilege changed your life?

Post responses in comments section below.  We encourage you to share on Facebook and/or Twitter, too, with hashtag #IDPEquityChallenge.

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Awareness of white privilege

As a retired, straight, white male, I am seeped in privilege. No matter how much I have educated myself about structural and individual racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and the many other isms and phobias that plague our society, I have to constantly remind myself of the advantages I have reaped from a system I oppose. Self-examination can be hard work and sometimes, embarrassing, as when committing a microaggression is pointed out

Like many of you, I marched on January 21, with 10,000 in Portland, Maine, and millions in the US and throughout the world—so much energy, high spirits, and, I hope, commitment to staying engaged. Perhaps the marches did not address all the concerns of all the participants or onlookers, but the important underlying themes were equal rights, interdependence and solidarity. Every time there is an attack on our rights and identity, whether it’s an individual remark or a law promoted by a deeply-flawed president and passed by a reactionary Congress, we should speak out and come together in opposition.

Some have argued that Trump, personally, is the enemy to be opposed. As bad as he is, I think that he is being used by the far right, and that he will eventually be impeached by the Republican establishment so that, via Pence, it is in full control of the national government. Wild-eyed, you may think? Time will tell.

Sorry for veering off from today’s topic. Racism and white privilege are pieces of systemic oppression with many other ingredients. There’s so much to do.


Conversation about privilege

Here is a good video about White Privildge for a view into different perspectives.

We are seeing some of this conversation come to life in the wake of the Marches. There are some POC that are pointing out some issues with the Marches that are pointing to White Privilege. I read some of them and I can watch myself flush, and want to disregard and come up with defensive statements around the reasons.  Yet I have learned that that response is a signal that I am uncomfortable with something and it is something I need to look at.  I value those voices, like Brittany Oliver that challenge me to think about things in a way I have not seen before.  

Privilege does not mean that life was not hard for you or that you have never suffered.  There is a desire to respond with well but I was not privileged this way or I really suffered that way or it just doesn't exist.  In talking with my son about privilege, he did not see it until I went through what if I had been a single POC mother.  Would our lives have been the same?   Absolutely not.  My world and his world would have been very different.

The idea of talking about how white people have advantages seems to be very difficult for us to talk about as a culture and society.  It is very uncomfortable and often seen as angry, defensive and sensitive.  I learned the term white fragility (Here is a good video on White Fragility) that rang true to me about the response often to these discussions.

Some of it is that we do not want to focus on the past and only the future.   We do not want to be lumped into the category of racist.  I think the discomfort of looking at this is why there is such defensiveness.  Is it the guilt? Is it the fear that we will lose something?  Or that we are being judged unfairly?  I find it kind of ironic that the response to white privilege is often that the minorities are being oversensitive rather than the other than seeing our own sensitivity.  

Can we really move forward if we do not acknowledge where we are coming from that there is a broken system?  How do we have these conversations to move forward rather than being more divisive?  I have so few friends that are willing to talk and think about racism and privilege and yet POC live it every day.  That is really discomfort.   One person on the video said.  "It's ok to be human.  It's ok to make mistakes.  It's ok to be wrong about things.  One thing about being human is that we can learn."  I hope we can embrace learning.



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