The privilege of the privileged

Disclaimer: Here at CREAD we’ve tried to normalize the language of liberation. Daily, we try and point you in the direction of literature and resources aligned with the spirit of the movement, while highlighting some of the most vocal and brilliant minds of our time. I say this all to say that if you’ve been following us since day one or even if you are new and trying to get familiar, understand people that these resources shouldn’t just be read and put to bed. Y’all better be out here reading, sharpening your minds and equipping yourself with the racial toolkit to dismantle White supremacist systems and decenter Whiteness. Don’t be out here playing. Don’t sit complicit and then tell your kids later that you were active in the fight for liberation in this country.

Friday, is that you playa?

Hey good people! 

Sooooooo, I sat in a training this week on implicit bias for a group of predominantly Black, and a few, White teachers and administrators. The premise behind said training was to examine and dismantle our biases, so that we may be better prepared to create culturally responsive spaces to educate Black and Brown students.

While the content was very engaging, I got to give you my top 3 takeaways:

  • First off, these trainings always take place in White spaces. From Columbia to NYU, I find that we always bring together Black educators in overtly White spaces to be educated by wypipo so that they may take it back to their Black students. Huh? Say what?
  • Second, why is Whiteness always at the center; even when Whiteness is what we are supposed to be decentering.
  • And finally, that White privilege is real as hell, and ever present in White supremacist structures.

Now don’t get me twisted.

This training was informative and presented fascinating topics to engage with. There was just one facilitator and the visible amounts of White privilege being displaced in his particular presentation that really rubbed me wrong. sj Miller, the Deputy Director of Educational Equity Supports and Services at NYUs Metro Center, who while I must say was knowledgeable and passionate about equity work, managed to center Whiteness in ways that I’ve never seen someone who was enacted to decenter Whiteness do. To make matters worst, we were in Brooklyn Law School, this beacon of White privilege and so you know I was not with this shits.

After a brief opening and background into sj’s personal and professional Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 7.38.02 PM.pngconnection to the work, sj instructs us to take a look at this Cisgender list of privileges. Now if you’re not familiar with this term, Cisgender implies that you understand and acknowledge that trans people exist. Boom. Cool. The impetus of the activity, I’m sure, was to help us realize our own privilege but honestly all it did was center Whiteness and more importantly White privilege. A list which includes such identifiers as:

  • I am a size and shape for which clothes I feel comfortable wearing are commonly made.
  • I expect access to healthcare.
  • Hollywood accurately depicts people of my gender in films and television, and does not solely make my identity the focus of a dramatic storyline, or the punchline of a joke.
  • Wronging me is typically taken seriously.
  • I have easy access to resources and people to educate someone who wronged me, if I am not feeling up to it.
  • I do not expect to be physically assaulted because of my body.

I mean looking through this list we had things that were certainly privileges, but upon closer review I came to the realization that this list was comprised mainly of privileges that White men have. Certainly some you’d assume I enjoy as a male, but compound that with me being a black male and those privileges become limited; and if you’re a black female then fuggedaboutit!!!

Like really?

I have a White trans male up here talking about how we support and undue inequity, yet sj keeps all of sj’s Whiteness and privilege central.

Where they do that at?

Why is it that issues of privilege never really seem to matter until it is White Privilege that has been obstructed? Especially when they’re oblivious to the way that their privilege allows them to move through this world effortlessly. Annoyingggggg!

Black people, due to a lack of privilege can suffer under the weight of:

  • Oppression
  • Inequitable treatment
  • Hateful speech and actions
  • Lynchings
  • Beatings
  • Institutional racism

and you know errummmmm White supremacy. Yet most wypipo people don’t give a fuck.

Well at least not enough of a fuck to actually change it.

But the moment these same injustices start hitting home for them and threatening how they wield that privilege, wypipo lose their goddamn minds. Let’s take a look at a few choice examples:

Crack in Black Communities vs Heroin in White America:

In the 80s, when the crack epidemic engulfed Black communities across America, we were not met with compassion or aid. No one was making sure that there were treatment centers and support groups. Instead we were assaulted with a war on drugs, which really was a war on Black communities and Black people. The New York Times can explain this better than me, they had a great piece earlier this year in When addiction has a White face.

When crack rocked the hood we heard no outcry from White liberals. There was no sense of urgency to cure addicts imposed by the powers that be. We had war, bullshit ass arrests, long jail sentences for minimal drug offenses, the hyper criminalization of the Black man, an increased private prison system, the despotic Rockefeller laws, oh and the oh so fair 3 strikes law.

Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 11.12.12 PM.png

Get the picture?

Yet when the conversation is centered on wypipo and drug addiction and abuse in the form of opioids; well then that’s met with more public outcry than when they let Oj loose the first time. Conservatives and liberals alike are touting their most sympathetic verbiage, calling for treatment and calling it a crisis.

There are no wars on the White middle class and affluent communities, no heavy or lengthy jail sentences for these supposed “victims.” Nothing at all like we’ve seen in the Black community at any point with our arduous battles with drug addiction and abuse. The government wants to step in and help everyone. Because now America cares. The Atlantic helps us to understand why white addiction is a public health issue while Black addiction is a criminal justice issue.

We don’t count huh? Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 11.12.43 PM.png

Khalif Browder and Pedro Hernandez vs Brock Turner:

This one is almost too easy. We’ve seen the hyper criminalization of Black men ever since the first enslaved African was brought here hundreds of years ago. This shit ain’t a mystery. White people dehumanize us to assuage their perpetual state of cognitive dissonance, brought about by their inhumane treatment of us. Can anyone say, Birth of a Nation? The 1915 one and not The Nat Turner Story.

Depicting Black men as savages and brutes prone to crime, helped make sense of our enslavement and horrible treatment up until today. After slavery, we saw the rise of a prison population made up primarily of Black and Brown bodies.

Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 11.13.04 PM.png Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 11.12.54 PM.png

Presently we have Black and Brown people disproportionately over represented in the prison industrial complex; some of whom are innocent, and many others who are imprisoned over long periods of time simply because of the predatory profit bail system.

Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 11.13.16 PM.png
But White men. Well White men are underrepresented in the prison systems, while receiving  lower jail sentences in almost every manner of criminality as compared to their
Black counterparts. So then we see cases where privileged White men like Brock Turner can rape a young woman who was lying unconscious in an alley, and be sentenced to 6 months in jail and probation; a jail sentence for which he only served 3 months due to his delicates sensibilities, and longing for ribeye steaks.

You can’t make this shit up. The jail system loves to persecute a Black men, while letting White men slide.


Joblessness and Unemployment for Blacks Vs. Whites:

Trump wants to make America great again because poor Whites ain’t got no jobs.
For all of the years that Black America has struggled under the weight of poverty, caused mainly by high rates of unemployment, fostered by institutional racism, we have never see any real comprehensive plan by Federal, State or Local governments to help support the creation of Black economic stability, business, or infrastructure. In fact, what we do see is the dismantling through underfunding, of community organizations and programs that help to aide in the employment of Black and Brown people.
Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 11.13.36 PM.png

Oooh but wypipo.

Oooh that’s a different story. Shit, a majority of poor white men voted to make Donald Trump President solely off the notion that he’d make America great again. How did he propose to do that for them?

By bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States and attempting to revitalize the archaic industrial factory system that has classically employed tons of wypipo and reinvigorating the coal mine industry; a system that pollutes and adds to the destruction of our ozone layer.

Wypipo above the planet? Yup that about sums it up.

So while some poor rural Whites may have it bad, they still don’t live in a continuum of generational poverty like a great majority of Black lower class citizens do.

Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 11.13.49 PM.png

Black people have fought for equal treatment under the law and in this country since the first slave rebellions hundreds of years ago. We’ve fought first to not be seen merely as property, but for the actual human beings that we are. We have fought for equal rights in every means of society. From access to decent healthcare, to protection by the police (and sometimes from the police), to the right to vote, the right to marry, the right to read, shit we’ve fought for the right to exist and feel safe since we were forcibly brought here. And hundreds of years later we are still fighting for equal protection under the law and it feels like we’re fighting by ourselves.

Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 11.25.22 PM.png

Do you understand the power of privilege? The mere privilege of feeling safe and at ease everywhere you go? That should be a given, right? But not for Black folk. Even those who’ve ascended to the middle and upper classes still don’t transcend the racial inequities perpetuated in this country. Most wypipo don’t have to think about race and so for them, being colorblind is a default setting; which is coded language for being anti-Black. Their privilege is so embedded in their Whiteness, that they don’t even acknowledge at times the power and advantage it provides.

Black folks, especially the ones who are actually melanated wypipo, need to check their privilege also. As a Black educated man, I acknowledge that I have privileges, that other Black men and women alike may not enjoy. It’s my job to police my privilege constantly so that it doesn’t impede on the rights of another. In that way, we must all make sure that the privilege we wield isn’t serving to oppress and marginalize others.

So I know you might have some questions:

So whose job is it to check privilege and most importantly White privilege?

Duh, White people.

They are the most privileged group and so the burden is on them to disrupt and dismantle this system of oppression.

Who else should be put on notice?

Melanated wypipo (if you don’t know what I mean by melanated wypipo please catch up and get your life here) and specifically Black men. Each of group has a lot of unchecked privilege. We get oppressed by wypipo and their power and in turn, end up oppressing each other.

Why should we be out here checking our privilege?

Like really dawg? Obviously, unchecked privilege by wypipo, melanated wypipo, as well as Black males have lead to our current political climate and President. Need I say more?

In some form or fashion, we all wield some sort of privilege. Usually that privilege allows us to move blindly through spaces not realizing the way in which it hinders others. The job for us, as both educators and adults, is to acknowledge that privilege and learn to decenter and denormalize it, so that we do not further oppress marginalized communities; especially the Black community.

Hold it down good people.


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