Privilege

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Privilege Essay, Research Paper

The Declaration of Independence of the United States asserts We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain enaliable rights, that among these are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So why then are people of a different race, color, culture, or religion treated with disrespect and hate? Racism is a crime of hate, hate against another person, or race because of color, culture or beliefs. Racism causes people to act cruelly and in humane towards other. It has existed since our Nations beginning, and it is now woven into many facets of society. Historically, white males have held all of the power positions in society. White males were the doctors, lawyers, and policy makers. Although minorities hold some positions of power today, white males still hold the majority of them. Humanity has been enduring an ongoing battle for centuries: the strained relations among the races as a result of White privilege. Despite efforts to put the past behind, signs remain at nearly every juncture that there still exists a strong sense of racial strife. While many Caucasians do not see the problem being as severe as it is represented, other races angrily reply that the lighter skinned race has not had to endure such prejudice and, therefore, cannot begin to identify with the situation. Similarly, minorities believe they often receive unfair treatment because of their race. For nearly as long as man has existed, racism has been driving a wedge between blacks and whites. Many racial ills perpetually keep the black and white races apart; much of this separation is the result of white privilege.

I ve never considered myself to be anything special, certainly never superior to anyone or anything by virtue of my ancestry. I ve been called a privileged white-girl by some, honky by others, and cracker by others still. I do, however, realize the many ways in which I am privileged. After all, I am an American, middle class, white female, not to mention the fact that I have the honor to attend such a prestigious school as the University of Texas. While I certainly do not agree that any one person should be allotted special privileges just because they happened to be born into a certain family, I have realized that it does occur. A perfect example would be my best friend Kinickka. She and I were inseparable right up until high school. You see, at my high school it was rare for the people of different races to hang out, or God forbid be best friends. Our whole lives Kinickka was one of the white people. We shared the same interests, listened to country music, we were almost identical except for one thing- she was black and I was white. Up until high school, skin color was not an issue, but that changed dramatically. Eventually Kinickka would feel the need to hang out with others of, as she would say, her kind. She often confided in me telling me she felt as if she was betraying her race, and even that her newfound black friends would often ridicule her for being too white. Eventually Kinickka and I drifted apart, I haven t heard form her since we graduated.

Being a white person in America today can also be very rewarding. One doesn t realize the advantages they have just by being white. Most of us go our whole lives without realizing exactly how lucky we really are. Also, these privileges were not earned, I didn t do anything special that should be rewarded, all I did was be born into a white family. This shouldn t mean that I should be favored over anyone else of a different race or ethnicity. Just because I m white shouldn t mean that I m allotted special things, treated any better, or allowed any special privileges. I could have been born black, Asian, or Spanish just as easily, and many of the privileges I enjoy without regard would not be available anymore. If I were to be born into another race I would most likely have to work harder and longer to achieve things practically handed to others. One example would be my junior high and early high school classes. Kinickka and I always had to be in the same classes together – until one year they placed me into the honors program, I couldn t quite understand why she didn t get transferred too. I didn t do anything special; we always helped each other out with our homework and projects. So how was it that I was placed in classes considered superior to hers? Little did I know about the effects of racism today. Many people believe it doesn t exist, that it was abolished along with slavery. They re wrong. As much as some don t like to admit it, traces of racism are everywhere, hiding discretely in the minds of the ones who deny it. A second example of the privileges I have received for being white was my freshman year of high school. My friends and I joined all sorts of clubs and extra-curricular activities. The biggest deal though was drill team. Only the cutest, skinniest girls ever got on the squad, and practically everyone wanted to be a part of such a high-quality team. I was extremely reluctant about trying out, after all, I could not dance (and still can t) worth a flip! So day after day my then best friend and I practiced at my house. I don t know why, but she never wanted anyone to come to her house. For hours we d kick, stretch, and review the steps, she would often have to teach me these strange dance steps. I mean, who ever heard of the butterfly? I must admit, this girl could dance. Come to think of it, all the black girls could dance much better than us. Kinickka would always make fun of us, saying we danced like white girls. I always wondered how she expected me to dance.. When the day came when I made the team and she didn t we were all dumbfounded. Everyone knew she was a better dancer than all of us combined. Once I figured out the reason why she wasn t accepted, I was outraged. After all, this shouldn t be a matter of race, it should be about who has the qualifications to make the cut and she certainly did. I had gotten accepted to the high school dance team solely because the color of my skin. I guess this could be considered a privilege for being white, but it is a privilege I m not so proud of.

Being white can also have some disadvantages. One of the major disadvantages that comes from being Caucasian is dealing with the realization of what mistakes my ancestors made and trying to correct them. It s these mistakes that are irreversible and will never be forgotten. I remember a few times in high school when Kinickka had started hanging out with her new friends. I was incredibly hurt, but it seemed as if she had practically sworn off white people. Occasionally I would smile at her, letting her know I would still love to be her best friend again, only to be stared down by her other black friends. Many times I d hear them make fun of her asking her why she still talks to that stupid white girl. I felt like there was nothing I could do, I wished I could change the color of my skin so I could get my best friend back. But she was no longer my best friend, she was a whole different person. Slowly she stared talking different, dressing different, and acting different and I could tell that she felt the pressures to conform to be more like her new friends. On the special occasions when I did get to chat with her she would often bring up things that we white people did to bring down the black race and that we should repay them for all they had lost. I tried desperately to tell her I wasn t one of those people and that I was sorry for what had happened, but nothing helped. I feel as if I live day to day by my ancestors mistakes, however, I can only apologize for them and try to make a difference. We cannot continue to hate each other for petty things we had no control over. I feel terrible for the pain and misery that my ancestors brought on to the black race, but I do not feel I should be treated as if it was I who committed these crimes. Even today I sometimes get stared down by African-Americans saying I looked at them wrong or said the wrong thing. It was horrible what the black Americans went through, and I am ashamed of the way my ancestors treated them, I just wish that we could get past it all and begin to love each other regardless of our skin color. It will never be forgotten, but it can also never be fixed if we continue to feel hatred for one another.

Racism is not something that will just disappear, but it is possible to minimize it if we keep it under control. The problem with racism is that many people don’t think it is a problem. Many live their lives not even realizing what is happening the world around them. If everyone could put aside their differences and look at their similarities they have with other people, then this world would be a better place. Perhaps if everyone would have a positive outlook on this problem in the future, there will be an end to all of the violence and hatred in our nation. Unless we start taking action, racist attitudes will continue be a problem. When the Declaration of the United States was written, it was meant to be upheld and followed. People should truly believe that all men are created equal and all men deserve the same rights and treatment. Before acting out any type of racism and discrimination, people should remember the golden rule Do unto others as you would have done unto you. No one race should enjoy any extra privileges than the other, there is not a good or bad race. The only way we are going to stop racism is to understand that we are not of all these different races, but instead one race, and that is the human race.

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