Skip to main content

This is important enough for me to say out loud in this crowded room.

I'm 50. I'm a white male.

Still, I'm also liberal. I live in a predominantly black neighborhood. My wife coaches a girl's softball team where the kids are almost all African American. We've had to confront racism from other teams.

...Yet, it was not until now -- not even after watching the drama unfolding from the murder of Michael Brown, staying up until 3AM nightly watching events unfold. No, not until carefully listening to Van Jones late last night speak of the subconscious nature of racism and then finally listening to actor and activist Jesse Williams that I finally get it. How ironic this should happen while I sit in a hotel room five miles from Ferguson. It must be in the air.

I get it. I am sorry.

Indeed, I now know that my white privilege does not require anything from me for it to exist. No matter where my heart is, whether it be colored in hate or exalted in equality, my white privilege is there. I now understand I was born with it.

Yet, born with it, I cannot thus owe an apology for it; I had no role in the womb in its cultural persistence. What I do owe is an apology for not recognizing it fully, not understanding completely enough to leverage that understanding to forcefully argue for affirmative action.
I owe an apology for thinking it something I could reject if I wanted to. I cannot, because, as an American white person, it emits from my skin -- a cultural pheromone traveling at the literal speed of light. I walk into a convenience store late at night where a lone cashier awaits and my white privilege manifests as a sigh of relief the cashier. When my path crosses with a cop, my white privilege cloaks me in near invisibility; I pose no threat.

I get it. I am sorry.

Because, when I was blind to it, it is all too easy to think affirmative action is not needed. Not being wakeful to the reality of white privilege, a 21st century white male instead sees only the unfairness to him; he does not want to "lose" a job opportunity to a black person if his skill set is equal. The slaves were made free generations before he was born, after all. Why is he -- me, I -- being "discriminated" against?

I get it. I am sorry.

I now understand that -- like the existence of 'good' by definition and mere measurement requires the existence of 'evil' -- affirmative action MUST exist where white privilege exists. There must be affirmative action; we must visibly hack the fossilized cultural grain of white privilege, if only as our feeble attempt to tell our black brothers and sisters we recognize the inherent unfairness and unsheddable nature of our own privilege.

I get it. I am sorry.

Originally posted to Patrick Leary, aka pajoly on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 05:58 PM PDT.

Also republished by White Privilege Working Group and Barriers and Bridges.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Angie in WA State, Sylv, Sean Robertson, Chi, Phoenix Woman, hester, mwm341, Gooserock, Bob Love, Stein, polecat, Matilda, chipoliwog, KMc, mole333, boadicea, mikidee, high uintas, admiralh, aitchdee, psnyder, figbash, exiledfromTN, niteskolar, Court Jester, eodell, Timbuk3, JayBat, zerelda, Curt Matlock, Vicky, TexasLefty, oortdust, davidincleveland, capelza, PDiddie, CTPatriot, Lying eyes, Big River Bandido, Sailorben, Simplify, TigerMom, Kevskos, eru, owlbear1, SaraBeth, Gordon20024, ord avg guy, kaliope, Savvy813, FindingMyVoice, snoopydawg, Arsenic, Oye Sancho, begone, Denny in Seattle, martini, kovie, Mr Bojangles, edwardssl, BlueInARedState, tobendaro, cardboardurinal, raptavio, seefleur, AoT, fou, kck, twigg, The Hindsight Times, NCJan, novapsyche, delonix, Ian Reifowitz, gerald 1969, Nulwee, One Pissed Off Liberal, rlegro, Wanda517, ColoTim, offgrid, EdSF, yoduuuh do or do not, Richard Lyon, gustynpip, bnasley, dizzydean, kdnla, TomP, TiredOfGOPLies, mconvente, TruthFreedomKindness, flowerfarmer, ScottyUrb, Youffraita, Laughing Vergil, tofumagoo, NYmama, Cassandra Waites, smartdemmg, Drewid, glendaw271, elpacifico66, oakborn, mattc129, World Gone Wrong, Anjana, Diogenes2008, ZhenRen, fayea, Bule Betawi, multilee, aufklaerer, bsmechanic, CanyonWren, kat68, shopkeeper, thirty three and a third, zizi, bfitzinAR, Denise Oliver Velez, Ibis Exilis, moviemeister76, jfromga, mahakali overdrive, America Jones, Vita Brevis, Lefty Ladig, BlueOak, Its the Supreme Court Stupid, smileycreek, Mokurai, FogCityJohn, serendipityisabitch, gramofsam1, vixenflem, catwho, susanthe, Polly Syllabic, Lost and Found, 2questions, JoanMar, gulfgal98, pixxer, Kristina40, Yasuragi, petesmom, science nerd, Oh Mary Oh, slice, FarmerG, Belle Ame, Onomastic, PaDemTerry, Front Toward Enemy, ladywithafan, slowbutsure, cv lurking gf, FarWestGirl, asterkitty, zukesgirl64, Kokomo for Obama, Carolyn in Oregon, thomask, Wolf10, abbotkinney, MRA NY, Daulphin, Imhotepsings, Andrew F Cockburn, blue muon, SoCalSal, StepLeftStepForward, nyer11Oak, Laurel in CA, hulibow, mod2lib, RockyJ, Flying Goat, DeadHead, ahumbleopinion, SilverWillow, pitbullgirl65, orangecurtainlib, CA ridebalanced, belinda ridgewood, Free Jazz at High Noon, MartyM, doroma, lunachickie, avsp, etherealfire, jeannew, ItsaMathJoke, Robynhood too, poison kitchen, Stills, koosah, VeloDramatic, Thornrose, Alhambra, knitwithpurpose, Jollie Ollie Orange, ORswede, oldschoolprogressive, Smoh, Ishmaelbychoice, suka, duhban, Bruce Brown, Gardener in PA, richardvjohnson, ExpatGirl, SusiesPurl, SirReal, RightHeaded, Penny GC, ConnectTheDotsUSA, Gurnt, Subversiva, VPofKarma, ginimck, mightynurse, cpr4life, Prickly Pam, Cleo1205, Sandika, AJayne, dcnblues, liberaldad2, alicehaynes, dewolf99, eyeRollz, qtfatgirl, ddublu31, kobaltkween, soccy, Doctor Jazz, csm, charlatan, Older and Wiser Now, DeeDee214, aransdell, nicestjerk, dmichiels, darleneh, mchaole, DocSalvage, KarenWisconsin, Fenriss, BetteNoir, Darth Cthulhu, HaroldPDX, Maximillion

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site