Before I attended my first ERAC/CE anti-racism training a few years ago, I had no idea what ‘white privilege’ was or that I benefitted from it. My parents had brought me up in a non-racist home with no racist language or attitudes, and even though we lived in a totally white suburb, there were occasional opportunities to mix with young people of other races through church events. I did not perceive any obvious differences other than skin color between us nor did I recognize any differences in the ways in which we related to each other.
Then in ERAC/CE training I was confronted with the truths of our very differentiated society and I began to understand the anxiety and pain which People of Color face in stepping carefully through the role-playing they engage in every day in a system set up and largely run by those of us who are White People. Our nation’s early laws and rights were written to exclude those who were not free and did not own land. New laws and their accompanying rights have continued to preserve a racist institutional legacy in our nation. Consider zoning codes, drug laws, and recent court decisions challenging voting rights. These injustices came out of White Privilege and continue to preserve it legally.
Now I know that it is the work of anti-racist people to dismantle this institutionalized racism. People with White Privilege must step up to do this hard work, inspired by the courageous leadership of People of Color and their white allies over many decades. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Get involved in local activities like ISAAC, Interfaith Strategy for Advocacy & Action in the Community, which directs group action towards issues of inequity in accessing housing, transportation, early childhood education, and youth violence prevention. Listen, learn, lead, and live out your advocacy towards true equality in our community. Step up.