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Addressing my Privilege

I do feel it's worth noting that I, too, have benefited from white privilege throughout my entire life. One thing that has always saddened me was the disconnect from other black folks I've always felt because we were in different socio- economic classes. I grew up with a white parent who was educated and had a career. Because race and class are inherently and inextricably tied together, having a Caucasian family put me in different circles than most other black kids in my neighborhood, not to mention I also physically looked different. Despite it having allowed others to ignore or dismiss what I have to say about race relations and issues, the fact that my skin is lighter has awarded me certain advantages that most of my black brothers and sisters never get. Instead of racism being a common experience for me, I more often experience fetishism (people either envy or fantasize about being me or being with me because I'm "exotic" looking) and I experience attacks on the level or intensity of my "blackness" on a regular basis (you're not REALLY black, Rachel. ) but I don't often experience the level of aggression so frequently felt by so many of my peers, especially those that are darker or poorer than I. Knowing this makes the problem all that much more obvious to me and I'm honestly glad that we're finally talking about it to this level on a mass scale. I can't tell you how many awkward conversations about race I've started that ended with the other person saying something like "but life for you isn't that bad, so we must be past the problem". We're really really really NOT and now that fact is blaringly obvious to more and more people.

We're headed in the right direction but talking simply isn't enough. Because we're still not completely out of the time in our history where black and brown-ness are commodity classifiers. Our worth as people in the eyes of society is still being determined by the colors of our skin and that is true of every American. Our current system is, in essence, the same one that was built to favor rich white people who owned land, businesses and people. The people they owned were, literally, captured and stolen from their homes and forced out of their right to their own humanity. It's only been 150 years since that became illegal. That's like 2 to 4 grandmas. 4 grandmas ago, I wouldn't have been my own person. 3 grandmas ago, I might've had to walk an hour to get to school and I'd still be picking cotton but MAYBE my family would be making it's own money. Less than 2 grandmas ago, MLK led people peacefully through the streets to "earn" the right to vote and to eat, drink and sit wherever they wanted. It's been 1 grandma since then. Why are we surprised that this is happening? Get over the shock, throw the denial away and acknowledge the problem.


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