My White Privilege - Geetha
Throughout our tour there has been a lot of discussion of white privilege. It is a very interesting question for mixed people who have a white parent. We have mostly discussed with respect to people who are mixed, but perceived as white. It is interesting to hear the ways in which they have received white privilege. But I have never really thought of myself as someone who would be a recipient of white privilege, because I have never really thought of myself as a white person and nobody has ever mistaken me for being white. I love and acknowledge my white mother, but based on my physical characteristics, usually what people see of me, I am definitely not white. There are many kinds of white privilege that I will never receive because I have dark skin, and there’s no question about that. Since I first heard the term “white privilege,” I have always categorized myself as someone who does not receive it.
However, this tour has made me think about the fact that although I am a person of color (and I will always continue to identify that way), my white background has in fact given me a lot of white privilege. My mom receives white privilege, and because she raised me, I have benefited from that privilege in a lot of ways. Everything from my family’s long historical presence in this country to the fact that my mother may get treated better by store clerks has impacted my own life and given me privileges that I would not have if my mother were a person of color.
This brings me to a whole new stage in my identity development that I can tell already is not going to be easy. Let’s face it: it’s very hard to come to terms with our own privilege. I still struggle to acknowledge the privileges I receive from aspects of my identity like my socioeconomic status and sexuality, privileges that are very easy to see and that others experience in the same ways I do. But this white privilege thing is a whole new dimension for me. With my socioeconomic status and sexuality, there is no question that I am privileged by them, but there are definitely questions as to when and how I am privileged by my whiteness. Much as been written and discussed around the issue of white privilege, but I have never heard a discussion that mentions the way I receive (and don’t receive) it. Of course this does not mean that other people aren’t thinking or talking about; it just means that this is the first time I’m thinking about it and trying to find others who are doing the same. I am both nervous and interested to explore my racial identity through this lens that truly does acknowledge all pieces of my heritage. But I know that it is important to acknowledge this privilege if I am going to work toward breaking down the system that creates it.