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May 10, 2017

The Dirty Secret of Racism: It Hurts White People Too

racism

Imagine you work hard your whole life: at school, work and home.  You win some and you lose some, and at times it feels like there’s more losing than winning.  Life’s not easy, but you hang in there and follow most of the rules.  Some people are less kind than others, and your interactions with teachers, coworkers, bosses, store clerks and bureaucrats can be challenging.  Like most people you know, you do all right, but sometimes struggle to pay bills, find a decent place to live, put your kids in a decent school, and get your basic needs met.  You see less deserving folks get rewards or perks you don’t.  You worry about the future.

And then someone says you have “white privilege”.

I get it.  I’m White. Growing up with three darker- skinned family members and mostly “minority” classmates, I hated racism.  I thought it meant meanness and abuse directed towards people of color, particularly Blacks, and as a teen I vowed to do my part to stop it.  I bristled at the suggestion that I contributed to racism or benefitted from so-called “privilege” just because I was White.  What a load of crap! I was a conscientious, empathetic person with multicolored friends.  I went out of my way to treat everyone with respect and dignity, even advocate for equality.  I worked my butt off in challenging social and financial circumstances to achieve a great deal.  To suggest I hadn’t earned it fairly was deeply insulting. To say I got unearned advantages sounded like a copout from lazy complainers.

Eventually, I learned that my well-intended understanding of racism was woefully superficial and incomplete.  I learned that I was blind to much of what was going on around me because I’m White.  I also learned a dirty secret about racism: it hurts White people too.  Read the rest on HuffPost!

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