It has been a number of years since I was introduced to the concept of white privilege. A number of years ago, I had the opportunity to hear Paula Rothenburg speak to a small group when I was attending St. Cloud State. She introduced me to the concept of “White Privilege”, which was the title of her book. Here is a link from Facebook that demonstrates very clearly how those of us with privilege can play an important role toward racial equality. It is short and the woman narrating is articulate in presenting her case.
Rothenburg opened my eyes to the idea of the white privilege that I myself have, but there are other areas where there is an imbalance of power in which we are all players. Recently Minnesota passed a marriage amendment. I know for a fact that it was the strategy for those campaigning for the amendment to show in its media blitzes straight couples speaking for the right of gay couples to marry. It worked. Those running the campaign knew where the power was.
I am neither black nor gay, but I am part of another group that still suffers oppression greatly in many other countries and in our own country as well. I am a woman in a world of white male privilege. I have had my share of dismissive attitudes from men over the years. as well as sexual violations. What I notice lately is the call to men to speak out against rape and for equal pay and benefits for women. The poor also suffer discrimination and stereotyping and need the voices of those of us in the middle and upper “class” to speak on their behalf. It may feel humiliating to those whose group identity is suffering oppression to have to turn to the group that is guilty of oppression, but it is what works. When Jesus talked about the poor and the disenfranchised he addressed those in power to change their attitudes and behaviors. To those who suffered oppression, he offered love and his voice from his own position of power.