I live a privileged life. I don’t worry when I’m walking down the street about that guy I see if he’s following me. When I’m with a group of my friends, I don’t worry about people mistaking us for a gang. In my younger days, I could have a first-floor apartment. Even better, when I get stopped for having a headlight out, I don’t have to worry about it turning it into a major altercation.
What? This doesn’t sound special to you? Then congratulations, you’re probably white, male or both. It’s like winning the societal lottery in America.
I want to talk about privilege. I know you’re already probably about to stop reading, writing me off as a libtard whacko, but I implore you to please just stick with me for another 400 words. Hear me out, I’m just asking you to listen to another perspective. You’re free to disagree with me afterward, but I ask you to please politely listen.
There are a lot of people in our country who have difficulty or fear navigating the simple day-to-day of their lives simply because of who they are. It might be because they are female, of color, or because of their sexual orientation. For nonwhite males, the act of walking through a store may mean they are followed. Maybe a woman is being followed by a man, or perhaps a person of color is followed by store employees. It’s creepy. Or, perhaps you have a routine traffic stop. If you’re of color, you suddenly have fear because what if it escalates? What if the white officer suspects you of something?
White males, when we say you’re privileged, we mean it ironically. We mean you don’t live in fear of being judged by virtue of what you look like. People don’t automatically suspect you are criminal, you don’t have to walk with your keys in your fist as a make-shift weapon to fend off a sexual assault.
Ask the women in your life about their daily life. If you know people of color, ask them about these things. Fear for these people is real. It sucks to go through normal life activities afraid it’s going to take a terrible turn because of what you look like.
The ability to live your life without fear of attack shouldn’t be a privilege. All these things I’m describing to you should sound insane and terrible. If you don’t believe me, I implore you to talk to any nonwhite male in your life about this. Find out for yourself what others in your life are going through.
The first step to solving a problem is recognizing the problem, but I argue step one-and-a-half is empathy. I’m a white man, but even though I’ve never experienced these things, I can try to understand how it feels when a friend tells me how a man followed her through Walmart one day when she was shopping. I can imagine how it feels when another friend tells me how their child of color walks down the street with their friends, also of color, and people cross the street to avoid them fearing they are a gang, when in truth, they’re just going to play at a park.
I may just be a libtard whacko, but I hope that doesn’t lessen the truth of my words. The next time you see a woman, or a person of color, or someone who is trans, I hope you look through the stereotypes to see the person who is just trying to buy some milk.