I used to feel guilty for my privilege. I know that because I am white many things were handed to me. Yes, I worked for things but I already started with an advantage. Compared to someone not in the minority, school was easier to finish, jobs are easier to get, housing is easier to find. Unfortunately, this is our reality. The unfairness of it all bothered me and led me to feel guilty. In some ways, I was ashamed of being white. I believed that it was negative to be white because of all of the ways my race has oppressed others. But, a conversation with a friend changed this perspective for me. I would like to discuss three different ways that we can raise up the minority and strive for equality in our world.
1. Become Educated
Being educated about minority culture is important to me. I believe education acts as a first step in beginning to raise up the minority. One simple way to become educated is to make friends with people who are different than you. When we have a diverse set of friends we are able to learn about each other and build relationships that value diversity. Another way to become educated is to ask your diverse friends respectful questions. Don’t be too afraid of offending people to ask questions! If you have established a trusting relationship, a person should be able to see that your heart is in the right place even if you do unintentionally offend. Lastly, do your research. Get online and learn. There are plenty of resources out there. When we take time to learn about others, we are opening ourselves up to understanding. Understanding, ultimately leads to soul level connections.
2. Own Your Privilege
I am white so I will talk to white people. White people, please, own your privilege. Acknowledge that privilege exists. If you are in the majority you have an advantage. For example, let’s think about two third grade students. Both of them have to pass I-READ at the end of third grade. The standard is the same. Suppose one of these students is a middle class white male whose parents work day jobs and spend time reading with him every night. Now, think about the other kid. Perhaps she is a child of a single mom. Money is short so her mom has to work two jobs. Each day the girl comes home, makes some food, watches TV, and waits for her mom to get home at 8. Her mom arrives home and puts her to bed.
On the day of the test both students are handed the same version of the I-READ. They are identical tests and the standard is the same. The boy passes and the girl does not. Why? The boy had an unfair advantage because of his privilege. The standard was the same, but this sameness does not mean that the standard was fair for both students. Keep in mind that it is often hard for us to see our privilege even if it is there.
The statement my African-American friend made about my White privilege changed my thinking. He said, “don’t see your privilege as something to feel guilty about. See it as something to use to help minorities.” We have privilege and it is our job to use it responsibly. When we feel defensive or ashamed of our privilege we are losing our power to champion our brothers and sisters. Privilege is a privilege- use it.
3. Use Your Voice
An important point to make is that there is no neutral territory in the fight for equality. You are either fighting for it or fighting against it. Remaining silent is not an option. When we are silent we are allowing voices of hate to sound even louder because our positive message is not there to counteract the hateful ones. As Christians, we are meant to be like Jesus. Jesus was not silent. He spoke out against the discrimination and hate of the religious leaders. Jesus came for the broken-hearted, the captives and prisoners, the sad, the lonely, and the lost. If we want to be like Jesus we must fight for equality. Use your voice. Find out what is going on in politics and talk about it. Stand up for the minorities in your own town. Whatever you do, do not remain silent.
Honor others, remain humble and love them. Honor other’s experiences. Accept their stories as true. Give them the respect they deserve. Be humble. Never stop learning. There is always more you can learn about diversity. Love others. Let all things you do be done in love. We are all made by God and all bear his image- we look like him. Love multiplies. Start loving and love will grow.