Hey everyone! Hope you are enjoying the weekend. For some time now, my primary focus has been style. Style is not the main focus of this blog. Life is the most important subject. My daily struggles, lessons learned, and overall experiences.This weekend, I was fortunate enough to spend some quality time with my friends. We ate, drank, and were merry. After several comments were made, I realized that the privilege confrontation was both necessary and unavoidable. The global society is comprised of systems and institutions that uphold and support euro-cenrtic, ethnocentric , hetereo-normative, male dominated, Christianity dominate, consumeristic, wealth focused concepts of livelihood. I came out of the womb with strikes against me. At birth, the odds of social mobility, success, and access to the American dream were lowered. I am a dark skinned, African American, woman of low socioeconomic status. Growing up in predominantly white environments was difficult. Being a dark-skinned, African American, female who was also poor made my was a shitty experience to be quite frank. Special emphasis have been placed on my experience as a dark skinned woman because even within the black community, our experiences differ.Because of the light is right complex, and in spite of the “you’re all niggers” mindset, dark skinned people, of various ethnicities, races, and social groups experience the concept of dark skin inferiority.
Today’s topic is one that I’ll never fully master. Also, It’s a conversation that I’m beyond sick of having, but I know I’ll always have to have it. Recently, I attended a race relations workshop lead by Dr. Naomi Tutu, daughter of the great Desmond Tutu. She let the attendees read a letter that she wrote to her white friend in which she blatantly expressed her disdain for her friend’s racism. She forced her friend to recognize that 1.) She was privileged and 2.) Her privilege allowed her to hold stereotypes of certain races that were untrue, demeaning, and outright oppressive.
Because I attended private catholic schools were the majority of students were white, wealth, conservative, I accepted my oppression. Assimilation was the name of the game. Because I was the odd woman out, which was how many of my classmates made me feel, and also how I felt as a minority, I did not argue with people who made racist, offensive, sexist comments. Unfortunately, I was not adequately equipped to have the uncomfortable conversation with my white counterparts. At that point, I was blind to the privilege.
Thankfully, my undergraduate experience at Berea College allowed me to re-connect with myself and my people. Most importantly, I was in an environment where we discussed issues of privilege and power in society. Convocation speakers like Naomi, Michelle Alexander, Tyia Myles, Peggy Mcintosh alongs with the professors in the African American Studies department, and in the Sociology department gave me the tools to unveil the privilege that oppresses me.
White superiority in embedded into every aspect of our daily lives. As a black woman, I have to worry about my opinions being considered confrontational, aggressive, and sassy. My fro has been touched without my consent countless times. I can’t stand hearing the ” I don’t see race or the “I have black friends” excuses for someone denying their privilege. I can’t handle it anymore. I’m tired of being the butt of the joke because I’m black. I’m tired of being made out to be hostile. I’m tired of it.
This weekend I had to call a spade a spade and have that conversation with a close friend about white/ male privilege. At the basis of the negative, oppressive comments was this person’s desire to be humorous…..at my expense. Having the conversation is difficult but necessary. The first stage is denial, the next stage is defensiveness. My main questions is whether or not there will ever be a acceptance or willingness to change stage? My friend responded saying the all of his friends laugh at his jobes. Well, hell yeah, a bunch of other people with white privilege would think that black jokes were funny…. I don’t know the outcome of the conversation. I can’t tell you whether he understood. In no way do I intend to attack my friend, or put him on blast for criticism. This is real life. Minorities deal with power and privilege daily.
How did you approach the privilege conversation with a friend or relative? Have you been the privileged friend? Tell me about your experiences with unpacking and unveiling privilege.