By Haley Jena, For The Miami Student
Can you heal a cut by pretending like it’s not there? No. It will leave an ugly scar and won’t truly go away. For a clean heal, you have to dig through the pain. Pour hydrogen peroxide on it, cover with a bandage and do your part to help the cut slowly but surely heal. Now think about this as a matter of social equality instead of a wound.
As naïve as it is to pretend race, privilege or gender inequalities don’t exist, it doesn’t help the means of equality. It hurts it. Idealistically, privilege would cease to exist by ignoring it, but this isn’t the case. It must be slowly hammered down with each generation and each individual.
We can’t ignore the black and white. We must recognize white privilege is alive and well in the United States — in the year 2015. We must fight for our fellow citizens and human beings who weren’t born with natural advantages and privilege.
Ahmed Mohamed, 14, invented his own alarm clock and was promptly arrested when he brought it to school because his teacher assumed it was a bomb. If Ahmed was white, his teacher would praise him. However, because Ahmed is Muslim, he was put in handcuffs.
A University of Cincinnati police officer pulled over Samuel DuBose, 43, for missing a front license plate and shot DuBose in the head in the minutes following. My friend was pulled over for speeding and got a smile and a “drive slower next time, please.” DuBose was black. My friend is white.
Can you see a pattern? Can you spot the inequity?
White privilege exists. I guarantee from saying that, there’s a straight white male somewhere out there denying and shuddering, steam coming out of his ears. But that’s not at all the intention of acknowledging such advantages. It’s not saying white people should feel guilty for their skin color or the given advantages that comes with it. It’s not belittling the accomplishments they have worked hard for. It’s saying that they shouldn’t blatantly ignore that they have paths in life significantly easier than others because of the color of their skin; that in most cases, had their skin color been different, they would’ve had to work much harder to get there.
For instance, because of being white, my chances of getting a job after college are twice those of a black college graduate. From age 4 to age 18, a black kid is three times more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than a white kid. According to an investigation by The Guardian, black citizens in the United States are twice as likely to be unarmed when killed by a police officer than a white citizen. I have never had to factor in my race when thinking about my career. My fears of getting punished in school haven’t increased simply from my demographics. That’s privilege.
The numbers don’t lie: institutionalized racism exists in the United States. When the top 10 wealthiest percent of our country is more than 90 percent white and most political campaign money comes from such elite donors, there’s not going to be proper representation. Let me say it again: institutionalized racism exists in the United States.
However, a chunk of the U.S. population argues that such a prejudice doesn’t exist. There’s no denying the inequality and inequity of races in the United States, and doing so makes it impossible to achieve a balanced culture. Fighting for the equality of one group won’t harm the equality of another — equity of the races is not a teeter-totter, but rather a series of elevators that can all rest at the top floor if we function well as operators.
For example, saying that black lives matter is not saying white lives don’t. It’s simply pressing of the need for equality for all humans, despite skin color. It’s giving light to an oppressed race in the 21st century. You don’t walk into a fundraiser for AIDS and demand “Well, doesn’t cancer matter, too?” Of course it does, but we’re focused on something else at the moment.
Helping a neighbor gain equality does not belittle yours. Recognizing you were given advantages in society that a friend wasn’t given because they are from a different demographic shouldn’t make you feel ashamed or guilty, it should make you feel aware. Acknowledge privilege and be a good person — treat the wound and watch it heal.