I tend to avoid discussing political issues on a website about healing, but if there is a situation that needs talking about and healing more than racial inequality right now, I don't know what it is. I have thought long and hard about posting this, and I'm concerned about getting it wrong. However, I've been learning about the impact of white silence and see that if I say nothing I am complicit in what is happening.
Picture Credit: Maria Oswalt
Despite the fact that my mother is mixed race, it has taken the recent events - sparked by the killing of George Floyd and far too many others - for me to begin doing the messy and uncomfortable work of educating myself about the significant impact of racial inequality and my part in it. Why has it taken me so long? Because of my white privilege.
White privilege describes the unearned advantages that are granted because of one's whiteness or ability to 'pass' as white. - Layla F Saad
Despite having many BAME/BIPOC family members on both sides of the Atlantic, I grew up with fair hair and blue eyes in a society run by white people. I appear to be completely white and see that I have benefited from that throughout my life, even though I desperately wanted to share my mother's dark hair, her big brown eyes, and 'tanned' skin when I was younger.
I was educated by white people. Employed by white people. I had the opportunity to grow up without race ever being an issue for me so that I have never had to think about it. Now, I live in a village where the vast majority of people look like me. I don't have to worry about my children being attacked or called names because of the colour of their skin. Compared to their counterparts of other races, my children are much 'better off' in socio-economic terms. They have obvious and unseen advantages, for example, my son is less likely to be stopped or arrested by police, and more likely to survive COVID-19. My daughter is less likely to die in childbirth and more likely to have access to help if she chooses to breastfeed her children. That's white privilege.
I recognise that throughout my life, I have had the freedom to remain removed - and blissfully ignorant - about the impact and injustice of racial inequality, despite the fact that I am from a mixed heritage myself. I'll be honest, it is a very uncomfortable feeling.