Now that I am aware of my privilege, what am I supposed to do? I can’t undo my racial identity. I feel helpless!
Sincerely, Someone with White Privilege
Sounds like you may have been spending time learning about what white privilege is and what it means in terms of keeping systemic racism in place in America.
I don’t believe the Black Lives Matter movement is asking for anyone to give up their white racial identity. However, it is asking all white people to learn how they hold privilege by being a white person in society. How this privilege has benefited you and taken away from others. Finally, how you can use your privilege to help move society away from systemic racism by checking your privilege.
These steps are not easy to undertake for anyone. For many, even recognizing that they carry privilege is something completely eye opening. From there, owning the implicit bias we carry, how we have contributed to systemic racism based on our socio-economic class and racial identity and owning how this has taken away from others is all very difficult to uncover, own, and change.
I hear your helplessness. It is not easy in the least, but if we are looking to change the racist founding and underpinnings of the nation, each of us must undertake this courageous work. We swim in the water of a racist society, where it lies in every aspect of our society. Whether we choose to recognize it or not, we are in the system.
You cannot change your racial identity, but you can educate yourself, you can self-reflect on your own path of privilege, and choose to be an ally to the Black Lives Matter movement in the ways that feel right to you.
The last thing you want to do is become overwhelmed and checked out. When this happens, systemic racism wins and takes hold with more grip. So, keep going – learn, seek understanding, show compassion to yourself and the other, and take action that changes our society. Be well and take care.