White Privilege and Why You Should Use It

Photo by Koshu Kunii on Unsplash

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – MLK

Sixty years have passed since Martin Luther King Jr led the Civil Rights Movement. Yet, in 2020 Black individuals are still fighting for justice and equal treatment. And they are still experiencing blatant prejudice and racism from those in a higher power otherwise meant to keep them safe.

Black Lives Matter is an international human rights movement, continuously fighting for change in a world that discriminates on the basis of skin colour. In this blog post, with the help of Bonita Darkoh, Arts and Culture Editor-At-Large at GUAP magazine, I will be discussing White privilege, what it is and how every White person should be using it.

Founder of WalkingBrandUK, a platform focused on diversity in the creative industry, and FYVSUK, a platform showcasing stories of women and empowerment, Darkoh is deeply affected by the happenings in the US. The unjust murder of George Floyd only highlights the reoccurring, discriminatory treatment that Black people are all too often facing. And the UK is far from innocence when it comes to prejudice.

Darkoh comments, “I do not want to rule out all police officers as bad, but there’s been some callous acts by the police especially in the United States… These are the people that I would expect my community to call when they need help.

She says that adequate training should be given to those in power, particularly police officers on “unconscious bias, prejudice and racism”. Additionally, she says “It’s important for these institutions to make it clear that they do not condone racism, by proactively training and providing sessions that challenges officers thoughts, opinions and unconscious bias.”

So, what is White Privilege? And how does using it help?

White privilege can be defined as “ inherent advantages possessed by a white person on the basis of their race in a society characterised by racial inequality and injustice.” And regardless of your opinion, if you are reading this as a White individual, White privilege applies to you.

Speaking to Bonita Darkoh, she responds, “It is important for non-black people to be in alliance with Black people due to the accessibility, audience and connections they may have. We need people out of the community to educate others on the need to help us address this issue.”

White privilege doesn’t diminish any hardships faced or potential of ahead, it simply augments how White people have never suffered in society as a RESULT OF the colour of their skin. Fundamentally, this privilege must be used as a means of supporting our Black communities, friends, or families.

Darkoh explains, “due to their [White] privilege their voice can be amplified and understood in different ways, as some will find it difficult to digest uncomfortable situations like these coming from someone that does not look like them. Non-black people in general must use their voice to help us stand against racism, as their silence does nothing if they are also against racism.”

#BlackLivesMatter has met with a clashing #AllLivesMatter, both circling social media but the latter completely missing the meaning and purpose of the former. And the former is a form of gaslighting, says Darkoh.

She comments, “This response [All Lives Matter] is a defence mechanism for those that don’t feel included, whilst others may feel it is a sort of attack on their existence. ‘Black Lives Matter’ does not mean non-black people’s lives are less important, it’s a response to the current affairs as people are being killed with no justice as if we do not matter.” 

Darkoh recommends any White person that wishes to “be in alliance with black people facing police brutality” should research and find appropriate resources. And, when I say ‘wishes’ – I urge you to use your voice, engage in change, sign petitions and do everything you possibly can do.

Darkoh adds, “Educate yourself on how to do this, as we appreciate every non-black person that is currently speaking up for the community as this is a very tough time for us.”

At the minute resources can be found all across social media under hashtags such as #BlackLivesMatter and by accessing the Black Lives Matter website here. Or, if you’re following the right people on your social media accounts, these should be already circling across your feeds.

As a White person I feel ashamed and disgusted at the pure racism and discrimination that has persisted over decades long. I am remorseful at my own ignorance and failure to see how prevalent White privilege is.

Focus may be placed on the US, but institutional racism in the UK requires attention also. And, this is something I’ve grown to learn from my own research and reading – I highly recommend ‘Why I’m No Longer Speaking To White People About Race‘ by Reni Eddo-Lodge.

Bonita Darkoh expands on this, “Education on Black history is poor, especially in the UK, education is a key issue here; institutional racism, prejudice and “unconscious bias” as one could argue its conscious. Many people lack education in these areas, and when I say education I mean real information on the history, and resources on what institutional racism is and how to identify it.

Alongside how to check oneself when being prejudice, and how to address and have those difficult conversation when you see other non-black people being racist. It’s a joint effort, work places need need to do the adequate training, there has to be tougher laws on those that commit racial crime and those in power need to address their own prejudice as they put Black people at detriment when they don’t.”

Thank you to Bonita Darkoh for taking the time to answer my questions and be the main asset to being able to share this blog with you.

Below are some links to useful resources, please don’t exit this blog without checking out at least one of them.

https://twitter.com/artfIex/status/1267637066394812420

https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=m_pd+share-sheet https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#petitions https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#educate https://twitter.com/DavidLammy/status/1268293330057781248

https://twitter.com/kamanityrese/status/1267894503643496449

Ciao for now x

One thought on “White Privilege and Why You Should Use It

  1. As you know Gwen, I lived and worked in South Africa for ten years. During that time I travelled to Rhodesia, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana and Angola as part of my work. The black peoples of those countries are generally as decent as any other nationality. I was treated as an equal everywhere I went because that was how I treated them, as my equal. In the towns and cities there seemed to be an unwritten truce between the Blacks, Portuguese, Africaaners, Indians, German and English settlers. Each could speak two or more languages in order to get by. I had a black assistant who could speak, English, Africaans, Zulu, and two other Black dialects. That put me to shame with English and just enough Africaans to get by on. In the countryside wherever I travelled, if I stopped for some reason by a Native Kraal I would be offered food, Bantu beer and a bed for the night. All travellers of any colour or creed were treated the same. As human beings in need. There was no crime in the countryside but a lot in the cities, Everything from pick pockets to murder. Mainly Black on Black but a fair amount of street hold ups of Whites for hand bags or wallets. As I travelled I respected the Blacks and they respected me. I returned to the UK before apartheit collapsed, my respect for the Blacks went down as crime, rape and murder became rife across the whole of South Africa and Rhodesia with murder and rape rates now the highest of any country in the world. The Governments of all the African run countries are awash with corruption. The thin veneer of civilisation having cracked and split, now fallen off into the gutter and trampled on. The murder of Black on Black in Gang Culture in the USA and here is a throw back to Africa and Intertribal hate that has gone on since time immemorial. But all this is no reason for the brutality of US cops over there or for the constant pulling in of Blacks here ‘For a check up’ It’s all down to an irrational fear that the Blacks will one day, takeover and treat us like we treat them now. Gus.

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