waking up to white privilege

White privilege is largely hidden from our eyes if we are white. Why? Because it is structural instead of psychological, and we tend to interpret most things in personal, individual, and psychological ways. Since we do not consciously have racist attitudes or overt racist behavior, we kindly judge ourselves to be open minded, egalitarian, “liberal,” and therefore surely not racist. Because we have never been on the other side, we largely do not recognize the structural access, the trust we think we deserve, the assumption that we always belong and do not have to earn our belonging, the “we set the tone” mood that we white folks live inside of–and take totally for granted and even naturally deserved. Only the outsider can spot all these attitudes in us. It is especially hidden in countries and all groupings where white people are the majority.

– Richard Rohr, from an interview with Romal Tune

One thought on “waking up to white privilege”

  1. Hm. Thanks for this. We do quite a bit of reflecting on our own ‘social location’ in my program. I was reading something similar very recently regarding Canadian understanding of Aboriginal people and our unwillingness to let go of our ‘naturally deservedness’, and how letting go seems to seriously disrupt our common narrative. I highlighted the passage like crazy; you might find it interesting. “Stories that dominate Canadian history reflect an unwillingness to and inability to come to terms with the reality of Canada’s relationship with Aboriginal people. Nation to nation treaties, forces relocation of Aboriginal people to reserve land, the policy of forced assimilation, residential schools, and the Indian Act are forgotten events of a past that does not coincide with a dominant concept of Canadian national identity. Canadian’s typically position themselves as defenders of human rights. If they occupy a position of relative comfort, it is because they earned it through their own hard work. The long history of oppressive actions taken against Aboriginal people is a direct contradiction to that understanding. Rather than challenging the contradiction, most Canadians continue to position Aboriginal people as figures of the past, as people of a make-believe world…” Taken from Chapter 1 (“Historical Amnesia and the Discourse of the Other”) in Susan D Dion’s 2009 book, ‘Braiding Histories’.

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