Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Lesson In Privilege

     A lot of people don't understand the concept of white privilege. I myself struggle to understand it, though I think I've made a lot of gains recently. A lot of people think it's about guilt, and ask, "Why should I feel guilty for being who I am?" The answer is: you shouldn't. It isn't about guilt. Understanding white privilege is about awareness. White people need to be aware of the things in life that are easier for them than for minority groups. Once you have that awareness, you need to stop taking those privileges for granted. Accept them. Know that things are easier for you, and know that in some ways it makes you lucky. This does not mean that people think everything in your life is a cake walk. Of course it isn't. Everyone has their struggles. All it means is that certain aspects of your life are easier than they are for others. That's it. (For the record, that is by no means a full explanation of white privilege. I'm still learning and understanding myself. Please feel free to correct me on anything or add to my definition.)

     Over the past few months I've joined Pins With Purpose, a grassroots organization of artists donating our time and supplies to create jewelry and sell it for $ (100% of sales support non-profit organizations; We only collect money for shipping and handling) for organizations that need assistance in the era of Trump. I also manage the Twitter account for PWP. Two of the organizations we support are Black Lives Matter and The Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR). There are a lot of misperceptions about these groups. Many people, who are either too lazy to do do the proper research or simply want to keep their narrow viewpoint, believe these groups are hate groups/terrorist groups. Because of this I often get a lot of hateful comments aimed at me because I support these groups. I usually, as polite as possible, respond by saying that they are not hate groups, and then link an article with information and (God forbid) real facts. I doubt people actually read them. Instead, they call me a terrorist, a racist (apparently, I hate white people and think I'm the one true awesome white person), pathetic, and been told to go F off and die. 

     Some days this bothers me more than others. I'm ashamed to admit what I'm about to admit next, but I'm going to. One particularly bad day, I thought "if I don't support Black Lives Matter and CAIR, I won't have to put up with this harassment." Yeah, I did. That thought made me realize that I have the privilege to turn off the harassment. I don't have to put up with it if I don't want to. Black people and Muslims and other disadvantaged groups do not have that privilege. They cannot turn off the harassment. Just imagine that for a minute. It's a scary thought. It was this realization that gave me the motivation to continue supporting these organizations, despite the harassment I get because of it. It's the right thing to do, and it gives me a small taste of what other people have to deal with. I think more white people need to find a way to put themselves in the shoes of disadvantaged groups. It might go a long way in putting an end to all the hate and ignorance. 

     Pins With Purpose supports several organizations: NAACP, ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, The Rape, Incest, and Abuse National Network, Planned Parenthood, The Native American Rights Fund, The Standing Rock Legal Fund, The International Rescue Committee, The Trevor Project, Trans Lifeline, Earth Justice, Border Angels, The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, The Committee to Protect Journalists, and ProPublica. I know a lot of people have a charity that is near and dear to their heart, but I really think we have something for everyone here. Check out our Etsy store