Posts Tagged ‘White Privilege’

Talking the Talk: White Privilege, People of Color, and Racism

February 25, 2010

I am really new to the world and words of anti-racism. So new, in fact, that I sometimes forget the language common to anti-racist discussions isn’t necessarily known and understood by everyone. From discussions I have had with friends today about my post yesterday, I realize that there are three terms in particular that I would like to provide clarity around.

The first is white privilege. This is a term used to describe the advantages white people have based solely on the fact that they are white. It’s not earned or asked for, and it is not about consciously claiming or asserting superiority. It’s simply the result of having the same color of skin as the people who hold the institutional power and who are considered the “norm.” Often, part of white privilege is not being aware that you have it.

Second is people of color. A brief, informal poll on twitter today revealed to me that lots of white people seem to think this is a euphemism for Black people. It’s not. The term people of color, in discussions about race, refers to anyone who is not white.

Finally, racism. Racism is often used and defined as any sort of racial prejudice. For purposes of anti-racism discussions, it is specifically prejudice plus institutional power. In that framework, people of color cannot be racist, because they simply don’t hold institutional power.

All of these terms as I have described them apply to anti-racist discussions in the United States.

All of these definitions are from my understanding of a subject I am pretty new to. Please let me know if there’s anything I’ve missed or bungled.