I am a white person. Always have been, always will be. I can't help that any more than I can help being an opinionated know-all or liking boobs. Having this skin colour has brought with it several benefits.
- I can approach a police officer in the safe knowledge that they will listen to what I have to say and take care to ensure that my problem is taken seriously! (unless I get drunk and end up raped that is. But burglary? Mugging? I got 111 on my side!)
- Petrol stations will unlock the petrol pump for me before I prepay if I ask nicely, because I'm not perceived as a criminal purely because of my skin!
- I can talk about racism without people telling me I'm overreacting!
Of course, with the perks of being seen as having earned my degree fair and square and being a useful member of society, comes some downsides. The lord giveth, and the lord taketh away.
|He's British you know. We're practically cousins|
- I can't use the word "nigga" without people maybe thinking that's a bit racist, despite having watched The Wire twice through and owning several Public Enemy songs
- I'll never get stopped and searched by a police officer for no reason other than walking down the road
- I feel a bit uncomfortable when confronted with the terrible legacy of centuries of oppression and violence committed by people with my skin colour.
That last one. How dare I be made to feel slightly awkward when I read a tumblr post titled "Fuck white people"? How dare I, a homeowner with the money for an overpriced haircut to go with my latte, even have to conceive of the idea of institutionalised racism and my own white privilege?
BECAUSE I AM ATTEMPTING TO BE LESS OF AN ARSEHOLE.
I live in a world that is almost entirely geared towards my kind. My ancestors were never treated like animals, worked till they died, or shot for sport purely on the basis of skin colour. Sure, as a woman I can expect to earn less than a man. But as a white woman I can expect to earn more than a woman of colour. As a queer woman I experience intersectionality of orientation and gender, but I'm still of the race that has
ruled been a fucking disaster to most of the rest of the planet since before that dude got nailed to that thing. That carries a lot of cachet, you know.
|T-shirt design by Mr Vintage.|
So when I see massive injustices and examples of bigotry that don't affect me directly, it'd be easy to go back to my knitting or listening to whimsical guitar music. However, I am learning not to be an arsehole. Just because I am aware of the fact that being white gives me an automatic cheat code in the computer game of life doesn't mean anything unless I am willing to do something about the fact others aren't given the same cheat code. So if you find yourself nodding as you read the examples of Maori "privilege" on The Facebook, or furrowing your pale brow to some frothing bigot on Seven Sharp...
"AM I BEING AN ARSEHOLE?"
Usually, when a group is being given more, it's because they started with less. Well actually, they had plenty but then some bugger with a flag and a lot of soldiers nicked it. Which is actually worse when you think about it. Political organisations like the Maori and Mana parties may not get it right all the time but they exist because we are a society build on injustice and until that is righted there is a need for those who have less to be given a louder voice.