Earlier this week April @Good Books and Good Wine tweeted about how she was proud to have recognized her own white privilege when she realized she had been picturing a character who turned out to be Black as White.
Quick lesson, White Privilege, as defined by Wikipedia, ” is a way of conceptualizing racial inequalities that focuses as much on the advantages that white people accrue from society as on the disadvantages that people of color experience.” So basically, white people have these advantages that can be invisible to white people because we don’t even realize that we’re getting that advantage. An example the professor of my Women, Race, and Social Justice class gave was band-aids being called flesh tone and really only being the colour of those of lighter skin colours.
Now, when April tweeted this, it immediately made me feel uncomfortable because I do the same thing: I always picture characters as white, even sometimes after they’ve described as having darker skin. For example, I did this with Rue from the Hunger Games. Until the casting for Rue happened I was still picturing her as white. I tried to explain this practice away as me picturing someone like myself. I am white, so I reflect myself onto the characters I read about by imagining them as white.
But then I had to take a step back and really think about it. Even if my reasons for picturing characters was the truth (and while I like to believe it is, who really knows what’s going on in my head), does that make it any less of a privilege? Isn’t it a privilege to be able to picture people as like myself? And the fact that this came as such a shock to me basically proves that it’s a privilege.
It’s not easy admitting to privilege. I like to believe that I don’t let things like racism affect me, but they do influence me. That’s why I think admitting that is the first step. Recognizing the privilege is the second step. When I figure out the third, I’ll let you know.
Agree or disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts!