Today I thought of a very simple example of how my privileged background puts me at an advantage, no matter what my own pitiful bank accounts look like at the moment.
Over the last few months, I’ve been going for walks in shoes that weren’t great for walking. I ended up causing quite a bit of pain in my feet, legs, and even up into my hips and back. (It’s all connected, yes?) Because I have friends and family who are financially more comfortable than I am, I received gifts for my birthday this summer. One of them was a gift card to Lamey Wellehan shoes.
gift card for my birthday to Lamey Wellehan —> I get to buy really good shoes for walking —> able to go for walks without damaging my feet or the rest of my systems —> general physical and emotional health improves —> am not in physical pain and am better able to carry on my day-to-day tasks —> no need for time consuming medical appointments to deal with physical pain problems –> my overall life has less stress because I’ve been walking and because I’m not in pain from that walking.
There are countless threads like this for people who come from privileged backgrounds compared with people who come from real poverty. Many people will say, “well, DUH, this is obvious.” But maybe some of you will read it and have an “ah ha!” moment or two of your own about some of your own threads of privilege and the advantages it affords you. Awareness isn’t creating change in our broken systems, but it’s a step in the right direction. And, in this case, it’s a STEP IN REALLY GOOD SHOES. (Ha.)
There are lots of sources of information out there on the Internet, so I usually resist the temptation to recreate the wheel. But, I’m going to go ahead and share a few of my favorite books that have informed my experience as a person who benefits from white privilege (because I pass as white*). These are books related to why I understand the #BlackLivesMatter movement is the our modern day Civil Rights Movement.
“What would you do if the Civil Rights Movement was happening today?” It is happening now. We must act with our neighbors across the country.
I won’t summarize the story/content, I’m just providing links for my white peers who are interested. There are many other books (I found great lists by googling “what white people should read about racism.” Here are a couple shared by women of color: 16 Books About Race That Every White Person Should Read, 18 Books Every White Ally Should Read) and resources online, of course. But here are a few that have helped me especially in the last few years:
Between the World and Me
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
How to Be Black
* Because “white” is a social construct, I’m exploring what it’s like to talk about myself as someone who “passes” as white. I know there is a deep and painful history of “passing” in our culture for people who are born into black and brown families, so I’m not sure if I will stick with this phrasing; I don’t want to minimize those experiences as I pass as white without any effort. My thought is if I don’t just say “I’m white,” then perhaps I’m pointing out the fact that it’s really only because of our country’s foundation (slavery) that we have such a divide based on “race;” that identifying as white and being able to pass as white (without any effort and only positive consequences).
Filed under activism, racism