White people: Acknowledge your privilege

Claire Pettinger

Racism is real, and discrimination based on race is a problem in the United States in 2017. White privilege is real, and needs to be recognized by the white majority. Being proud of colorblindness is a product of white privilege and is crippling to people of color or POC. Throughout the Bible, in the Old and New Testament, God calls us to be the voice of justice and the condemns oppression of anyone. Unfortunately as hard as these statements are for many people to swallow, it is a necessary truth that people must come to understand. Racism is not a problem for someone else. It’s a problem for you, because your black and brown brothers and sisters are being discriminated against and treated unjustly every single day. Didn’t know that? Never experienced that? Me neither. That is our white privilege; just one of the advantages we have because of our ancestry, our skin and our birth certificates.

It is important to understand that white privilege still exists even where white poverty exists. It’s hard to understand, but white privilege isn’t necessarily socioeconomic. Rather it’s how society views a white person vs a POC. Even if you had a really hard life, which is not something to be ashamed of, you still were able to open a magazine and see your race widely represented. No one would question how you got where you are today (because of your hard work) as they would assume that a POC received hand outs. And when you hear about the history of this country you would see hundreds to thousands of people like you who made this country what is it today, unlike POC.

While right now in our society you might be more aware of racial issues because of the recent inauguration and the media, just last year race most likely was not something you really thought about, right? Yet another perk of white privilege. Many in the white majority consider race and things related to race such as the immigration ban and the building of a wall political topics, but they are not.  These are things people of color can’t just stop thinking about like white people can, because they are constantly reminded of the color of their skin.

Now you might be thinking ‘but racism means bigoted remarks, segregation and slavery.’ However, Debra Guckenheimer a sociologist and blogger said, “Racism used to be a system upheld by people with overtly racist beliefs. These people embraced beliefs about white superiority. These people still exist, but the ideology of racism has shifted. (Although this never went away and is arguably making a comeback).”

This shift in ideology takes many forms but a common one is color blindness. This means that a person says that they don’t see the color of another person’s skin and therefore refuses to recognize another’s experience and culture.  In today’s society many white people claim color blindness, and while this is an ideal, being blind to another person’s experience only fuels the fire of systemic racism in the reality in which we live. By teaching children to be colorblind, a parent is choosing to let their child be ignorant of different experiences within different races. This reminds me of that cute picture of the little white boy who wanted to cut his hair like his black friend to fool his teacher. Okay, that’s so cute, but because those two beautiful little boys will grow up with vastly different experiences, the little white boy would grow up not understanding those differences and could grow to resent and misunderstand his best friend.

I believe these points to be something that everyone must understand, especially Christians. Throughout the history of this country it has been white Christians who have been the main perpetrators of racism and still are today.

What does the Bible say about this?  “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause,” (Isaiah 1:17).

“Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts” (James 5:4).

We are called by the God of the universe to be intolerant of oppression and injustice. We are all made in His image. He created different skin tones, and let us create different cultures all of which display God in someway. Christ himself is a person of color, and would probably be banned from coming into this country today or at the very least highly discriminated against. As Christians we need to celebrate diversity, see color and stand against racism.