I'm embarrassed to admit that I'd never considered my privilege as a white person until about two years ago. Sure, I was aware of racism, but I didn't stop to connect it to me and the colour of my skin. I didn't take stock of all the ways I was benefiting from being white:
"As a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something which puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege which puts me at an advantage." --Peggy McIntosh
This summer, women of colour started a conversation on Twitter about the imbalances in feminism with the #solidarityisforwhitewomen hashtag. I watched that thread in an effort to learn more about my unearned privilege as a white female. I had some follow up chats, one in regards to this essay on interracial friendship:
We couldn't giggle about the same kinds of boys since our tastes fell along racial lines, couldn't trade makeup or hair products, or move through each other's social circles with ease any longer, because increasingly these things were defined by race. So I decided that I needed black girls for friends, girls who liked the boys I liked, who went to churches sort of like mine, where we didn't have "youth group" but youth either joined the choir or the usher board, girls whose cultural experiences were and would be closer to my own.
I shared the article on my Truthfully Facebook page. Although I grew up in Alberta where my exposure to different races was fairly limited, I wasn't surprised that many of the Vancouver-born women who responded were part of interracial friendships growing up.
What I was surprised to hear was that, unlike the essay's author, they felt their circumstances were ideal and race was a non-issue. This felt off to me and I questioned them:
For [those] of you saying you had interracial friendships and it wasn't an issue, I'd be interested to know if it was the same for the POC you were friends with. There was an imbalance that didn't demand your attention as the privileged. In retrospect, do you see any of that?
The denial continued. "I never cared about the colour of their skin," someone said. I understand that the essence of this comment was, "We're all just people man--that's what I see!" And I've said some version of this same thing until learning that Having A Color Blind Approach To Racism Is Actually Racist: MORE