A couple of days ago a white privilege hashtag was trending on twitter, where a bunch of white people talked about how they have privilege and what they get away with because of it. So my wife put out the call on her Facebook for people to talk about their white privilege (yeah she likes to debate people...).
Anyway she had a Canadian guy that has worked as a teacher in northern and predominantly native population schools talk about the racism his kids experienced, being called savages etc. and that he has white privilege as it doesn't happen to him.
I got her permission to post her response as she does a good job of articulating the problems with the idea of white privilege and why we need to stop going on about it all the time:
I think it is absolutely abhorrent for people to direct that type of language to anyone let alone children. I don’t dispute that your students have dealt with racism, and unfortunately, they probably will for the rest of their lives, I say this because I am in their shoes. No amount of legislation or multiculturalism will ever get rid of hateful ideas like racism, there will always be hateful people for whatever reason.
I think the work you have done with indigenous kids and children in general is commendable, teachers play one of the most important roles in shaping society. I really admire people like you because I was raised by teachers, and some of the best role models I have had in my life have been my teachers (all of whom were white).
The way I see racism and how I would explain it especially to young people of colour is that when I was their age, I wish someone would have told me that my worth does not come from the colour of my skin. I have come to learn that as a human being, I don’t derive any value from skin colour, just like I don’t place any value on my eye colour or my hair colour as they are just immutable human characteristics that I have no control over whatsoever. It comes from the things that I have worked for; like being a good mother, a person of good character and a good lawyer. This is what Martin Luther King Jr meant when he said that a person should not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.
I am a Torres Strait Islander which makes me an indigenous Australian. My biggest concern is for kids from indigenous and minority backgrounds not just in Australia but from all over the world. I worry about their mindset and the impact ideas such as white privilege has on their mental health. I say that particularly because indigenous kids in Australia (and in fact NZ) suffer from high rates of depression, anxiety and suicide, granted there are various reasons for that but this is an important one. The focus on race and skin colour has very bad consequences for their mental health and this was the case for me growing up in NZ. A lot of kids from indigenous and minority backgrounds face poverty and domestic violence and when you throw in the idea that society is rigged against us, how can you expect us to have a positive outlook on life? Take for example a young indigenous girl in Australia, and she is one of many who has taken her life, in her last Facebook post she talked about how racist the world was. It makes my blood boil that kids are being told that they have no hope before they even have the chance to properly experience the world.
The whole concept of white privilege promotes the idea that indigenous and minority kids have no chance, when we know that privilege exists in many different forms and that not all white people are privileged. Privilege does not solely come from skin colour, we need to stop giving our children that message.
I would also add that I think the idea of white privilege is reprehensible and it is not because some white people are not privileged, people from various backgrounds have privileges. But the idea that you can target an ethnic group with a collective crime regardless of the innocence or guilt of the individuals of that group; there is nothing more racist than that.