The first time I heard the phrase white privilege was at our dining room table. The kids were catching us up with their day at school and I was a bit surprised by something one of the kids had done that involved managing to never go to one of her classes that day. I asked her how she was able to manage that. The answer was white privilege. My daughters talked about all the things they could to do at school to bend the rules that Black kids would never be allowed to do. It was just a fact of life that my kids knew about, but I didn’t. Well, I didn’t have to think very long to realize I knew all about white privilege, but I had never put a name to it. Part of that was because I never had to put a name to it. I was just the way it was and it was working to my advantage.
It was helpful to hear my kids talking about white privilege because it helped me to start understanding it more clearly when I heard Black folk talking about it. Along the way I was able to get less defensive about white privilege and begin to understand its implications for everybody. And I’ve also realized that it is really important to just simply listen to peoples’ stories about how white privilege functions in our country.