This diary started as a comment in another thread where one of my fellow white people wrote a diary making some remarks which indicated a profound lack of understanding about race and privilege -- things that most Kossacks have come to understand, but some Kossacks (and perhaps most white folks in America as a whole) have not, and sometimes stubbornly and even angrily reject for reasons.
People in a couple replies to the comment exhorted me to turn the comment into a diary, and I later received a couple private messages further pleading for it to be turned into a diary, and I'm finally caving in and doing it.
I don't feel I'm adding anything new to the conversation, but sometimes there is value to repeating a message that needs to be repeated.
This diary is about the difficulty that people in a privileged class -- in this case, being white in America -- have accepting that the class is, in fact, inherently privileged, regardless of other factors in our lives. Many of us, confronted with our privileged, might feel put upon, accused of being racist (NOTE: Privilege and racism are NOT THE SAME THING in the same sense that crops and rain are not the same thing), or offended by the perceived or actual "tone" of the person doing the confronting.
If you'd like to read it, please hop over the Great Orange Pouf.
Can we engage in a mental exercise?
Seriously. I mean it. Let go of preconceptions and, just for the moment, accept something as true something which you may not believe, or may only partially believe with heavy caveats. Just for the moment, accept it as the unqualified truth.
Accept, for the sake of argument, that whiteness in America inherently carries privilege irrespective of wealth, region of origin, inherent intelligence, or how much you'd like to have more than what you do.
If you don't like the word "accept", then replace with the word "pretend."
So for the sake of this argument, stop trying to explain why you don't have privilege and pretend that it's a given that you do, but you cannot yet see how. (Think of it as a mental analogue to a scavenger hunt. Find the privileges!)
Start by imagining someone with the same relative wealth as you, with the same family, with one difference -- they're black.
Think about the things in your life that you can take for granted that black-you cannot.
Like not being presumed to be a criminal by the police or by strangers simply because of how you look.
Like not having to overcome racial prejudice to get a job.
Like living in a society where most of the people with power, authority, and/or prestige are of your race.
Like living in a society where you can spend much or even all your day in public surrounded by people who are mostly of your race.
Like where if you watch television, most of the people on the shows you watch will be of your race, rather than the occasional token, or the occasional show which is most likely to exist specifically to be focused on your race.
Consider some more. You truly have no idea how even the people occasionally termed "poor white trash" (a term I loathe because it carries the implication that "trash" is normally nonwhite) have a large number of privileges their nonwhite counterparts don't -- and one of those privileges is to be unconcerned with those privileges to the point where they don't even realize those privileges aren't enjoyed by everyone else.
Now this is a starting point. Privilege takes many forms. White privilege, male privilege straight privilege, wealth privilege, and there are others. That leads down a whole path of what's called "intersectionality" which you can Google if you want (but later!). For now let's just focus on the white vs. nonwhite.
Take some time and think about it. Then see what you discover, and see if this assumption which you made for the sake of argument turns out to actually be true.
As I said at the time this was just a comment, part of the reason I was reluctant to make this diary is that we do have, here on DKos, just like everywhere else in America, a number of people who do not want to accept their privilege, and who react with anger and derision to diaries like this -- and to be honest, I didn't want to deal with that. So I may not deal particularly well with people who choose to react to the diary in that manner; fair warning.