Lets Look Together at White Privilege

Back when I first started this blog, I committed to posting something every day for a full year. I succeeded. That is the longest commitment I have ever kept next to sobriety and my marriage. I would like to recommit, but for a different reason than I did back then.

After the death of George Floyd, I found myself wanting to act but uncertain what that meant for me. I knew it meant writing. This is my best tool and weapon. But I am not expert enough to be able to use my platform with the right credential, I feel. Maybe that is not necessary. There are plenty of folks giving opinions devoid of knowledge of a subject…but that doesn’t seem to stop them.

One of the things the black community suggests for the white folks is to study the issue of racism. Wise. I have seen on line suggestions for books and the added suggestion to become part of discussion groups. I am already a member of a discussion group and the next book we’ve chosen to read is White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo

Many of the blogs I posted in the past were commentaries on books I was reading. I have decided to do this in a more intentional way as I walk through White Fragility. Starting today, I plan to blog each day on something I am learning as I turn the pages. My motive is to help those of you who read my blog to learn along with me. Not all of you are readers as I am and those who are may not find non-fiction your first choice. I would encourage any of you to invite others to follow along by introducing them to my blog. I also encourage those who read to comment. I will respond. I promise.

The first thing I want to share is that this is not my first introduction to the idea of white privilege. Well over 20 years ago, when I was working on my degree in family studies at St. Cloud State University, I was encouraged by a professor who was organizing study groups to read a book on White Privilege…and I think that was the title of the book. It was a wonderful book that opened my eyes to see how easily I could move through life without consciousness of how some others around me could not. A simple example is being served in a restaurant before a black person. I had never noticed. Typically, I just had my nose in a menu and thought about how hungry I was.

Anyway, learning about my own privilege as a white person changed the way I perceived the reactions I got from police officers when I was pulled over for breaking the law or how readily a complaint was handled when I brought concerns about a piece of merchandise to a store. But that knowledge was just the tip of the iceberg and I am ready to look more deeply at this weird way humans have organized themselves throughout history.

I invite you to look more deeply with me.

6 thoughts on “Lets Look Together at White Privilege”

  1. I’m anxious to learn along with you, Judy. I worked with a black woman at the U of M. She became a very close friend. I watched her children grow up, spent social time with she and her husband and kept in touch with her after they retired to Florida. Unfortunately, I lost track of her family after she passed away. We never discussed the difference in our races!

    1. I worked alongside black people in Chicago years ago…early marriage days. I remember laughing with them over lunch, sharing our lives which to me seemed so similar. We never talked about race, either. Strangely, it gave me some kind of satisfaction that I was associating with black people, as though it made a statement about my own character…perhaps it did. I don’t know.

  2. Judy, that is a fantastic book to stir the mind. The first beer I read when the protesting began was “A Good Time For The Truth, race in Minnesota by Sun Yung Shin. I highly recommend this collection of Minnesota stories.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Geralyn. It is so good to hear from you. I am grateful for all the work you have done with young people.

  3. I’m anxious to hear more from you on this. Your example about being served at a restaurant first,, kinda hit home for me. I really never thought about it. I guess I felt like this was the norm, growing up in an all white community,, family never talking about black folks. My first experience with them was when I went to Catholic High School, there were two black girls who also attended. I do not remember anything about them,, but I believe they were treated the same as me. I wore a uniform, so did they. They ate with us in the same cafeteria,, and so on. But now I’m wondering why there were none living in our neighborhood. We weren’t that far from Chicago,, and rode the trains everywhere. So I ‘m wondering more what was I missing?? Maybe you can fill in some of the gap. By the way, if you have not seen the movie “The Green Card” I recommend it for this research.

    1. I am so glad you are joining in on this journey. Of course, our experience growing up was so similar. While racism was part of my experience, white privilege was a totally foreign idea. We tended to put the blame on black people for their plight. I say “we” because I am referring to the families who lived on Leland Ave. I noticed mostly the words that came out of my uncles’ mouths. I don’t recall my dad saying anything particular racist. I know I felt uncomfortable about what my Uncles Louie and Earl said. It sounded so “not nice” to me. My experience with black people was when I traveled the trains and buses getting around the city. I was struck by the run-down neighborhoods that we passed through. I wondered, but didn’t understand. I remember trying to be friendly to black people with a hello or a smile. I was never rebuffed. Older black adults were always especially friendly, because I was a kid, I think. Maybe they appreciated that I didn’t seem afraid.

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