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Back May 5th, 2008 Forward
Musings on white privilege

This has been sparked by a number of different posts on a number of different blogs. I should note I don't comment on white privilege in a US situation, or one in the UK, or anywhere else. I'm talking about the Australian version, because it's the one I live with, and live in. I'd be interested in hearing what other people think, too.

So, here 'tis:

White privilege in Australia isn't hidden. It's obvious. In its most obvious iteration: as a white woman, my ancestry is not questioned. I don't have to prove who my parents and grandparents were in order to be able to claim government benefits. If I go into a Centrelink office, I will be treated like a second-class citizen, rather than a third-class citizen. If I move to live in the Northern Territory, I will not have to submit to government-mandated invasions of my privacy. If I drink something alcoholic, I will not be regarded as a typical example of my ethnic group.

I do not have to fight uphill against prejudice and assumptions of "unfair privilege" from the narrow-minded for any sort of access to education beyond primary school, health care, governmental assistance, cultural recognition or any similar service.

I know my privilege. I know my own internalised racism - the internal cringe/scorn combination every time I see a drunken Indigenous Australian in a public place, the lumping together of a number of different cultures under the label of "Asians" or "Africans" or "Abos" or similar. I can even recognise some of my early experiences with being confronted by racism - the kids with the darker skins in our schools, who I didn't recognise as being indigenous. The ones who bullied purely as a reaction to the way society expected them to behave - "you want a scary blackfella, I'll give you a scary blackfella", they seemed to be saying. The way I didn't reach out. The way I couldn't reach out at the time, because I didn't have the tools or the knowledge; the way I still don't have the tools or the knowledge to make an effective contact with persons from any culture outside the profoundly Anglo-Celtic one I grew up in. I try to work past these, although sometimes it's hard to figure out a useful and polite course of action.

Part of my privilege is I get to feel as though I'm doing my best by saying this, even though I'm sure I could do more. Part of my privilege is getting to speak as though this is all about me, even though it isn't. Part of my privilege is knowing enough to be speaking about my privilege.

Current Mood: philosophical philosophical
Back May 5th, 2008 Forward