I heard a group of younger people this weekend talking about white privilege. I have become so sick of that term that I had to ease drop a few minutes since I was waiting for someone.
This was a group of what I think were 20 something’s at a coffee shop and I was glad to see they were a group of young black men and one young man having a civil discussion about it. There were even 2 men obviously a couple in the group so they were a well defined, diverse group. They went on discussing it as apparently it was part of a class essay or project coming up. The white young man asked how do you define white privilege? It didn’t escape my attention that not one had much of a response, even him. They had those catch phrases that we’ve all heard and mean nothing. You get better things in life because you’re white. You make more money or get better apartments, treatment, because you’re white but no one had an actual example.
I had to really pay attention when one young black man in the group said bullshit. I turned to look and he quickly said it’s all bullshit by people that want an excuse to be lazy or not get an education. That was the past. He went on to say that maybe 20 years ago it was an issue but “nowadays in mainstream America, if you educate yourself, act professional and treat people with respect you get that back and jobs are there if you have the skills to get them regardless of color” and he didn’t want a job just because he was black. Wow a 20 something with a brain. I was shocked and admired him standing firm on his opinion although they got into a little bit of a heated debate.
I must have stared too long or not moved away soon enough because they noticed me. The one young man said hello and asked “can I ask your opinion?” Well in case you haven’t noticed, Slightly has an opinion on nearly everything so I said we’ll see, ask.
He said do you believe white privilege is a thing? I had to think a while and I said yes but in the past. I said growing up when I did there was a big issue. People were denied jobs based on color. People were denied an education, housing, even places to eat based on color. I said the sexual preference thing is different because in my day no one ever came out and declared to the general public I’m gay so that wasn’t a huge issue that I’m aware of. In my day gay or straight, who you slept with was a personal matter that people didn’t talk about. I said it was a time in our country that should be remembered because things forgotten can easily happen again. One of the young men said well white people will never understand our suffering. I had to point to him that all the suffering he wanted noticed for was suffering by his ancestors, by those that were slaves (black and white slaves like Irish children that were sold into servitude). He prospered now because they suffered then.
I stayed a bit and listened to them talk on but didn’t really weigh back in again till I was ready to head out. I thanked them for talking to an old fuddy duddy and not holding the past against everyone of my generation and as I was leaving I said one thing to remember. With a small exception, none of todays white youth are demanding special privilege. None of them are getting jobs based on color. Our black youth can’t keep screaming you don’t understand our suffering especially if you refuse to understand their privilege. They are living in the same generation you are. Just like you want treatment based on what happened to your ancestors, they don’t want shame or ridicule based on their ancestors.
I have to say not one said a word till the man that initially spoke to me then asked if they could use what I said in their project. Well you know Slightly loves being famous so of course I said yes. It was nice to listen to some of our youth that want nothing other than what they have worked for and earned. That is few and far between nowadays.
Peace out fellow ease droppers. Signed Slightly (firstname.lastname@example.org)