There are a few things I have in life that I never asked for. Being white is one of them. I never asked to be white and I didn’t ask for white privilege, but it was bestowed upon me. I never had to earn it and I have benefited from it my entire life — in my education, housing and job opportunities.

  • Ignoring and avoiding the conversation isn’t the answer -- and neither is hiding behind my white privilege and remaining silent.
  • My son's white privilege means that he can walk into a business or an open house, and he will be treated with respect instead of suspicion.
  • I don’t think I should have to explain that all lives really do matter, but it’s not all lives that are at risk right now -- at least, not to the degree that black lives are at risk.

There are a few things I have in life that I never asked for. Being white is one of them.

I never asked to be white and I didn’t ask for white privilege, but it was bestowed upon me. I never had to earn it and I have benefited from it my entire life — in my education, housing and job opportunities.

A week ago, I was ready to unfriend everyone on Facebook who countered and dismissed “Black Lives Matter” with “All Lives Matter,” but I changed my mind. Ignoring and avoiding the conversation isn’t the answer — and neither is hiding behind my white privilege and remaining silent.

I need to speak up for my grandchildren. They haven’t been born yet — but when they are, some of them will be born without white privilege.

My daughter and son-in-law want to move out of Minnesota. It is the most racist state in the United States as measured by income disparity and education gaps and few other measures.

The young man, Philando Castile, who was pulled over by police in a routine traffic stop and was shot four times, went to the same school that my own children went to and was close to my son’s age.

That could have been my son stopped by the police and shot four times.

Wait…I can’t believe I just wrote that; my son is white. He enjoys white privilege and male privilege, which serves as a kind of shield that will protect him.

My son doesn’t even have to act white because he is white; his white male privilege shield protects him no matter how he acts. His privilege extends into the workplace and into all aspects of his life.

He can walk into a business or an open house, and he will be treated with respect instead of suspicion. It would be even better if he were wealthy — and maybe someday, he will be.

I saw some statistics about traffic stops in Minnesota on the local news, and there were more white people stopped than black, but 30 percent of the traffic stops involved black drivers — which is astounding, considering that less than 12 percent of the population of the state are African American.

I don’t agree with the statement that 99 percent of all cops do a great job. That hasn’t been my experience with any group of people and certainly not with the police in my community.

If you are not absolutely terrified when a police officer pulls you over, then you might be enjoying white privilege.

If you are pulled over by the police or obviously closely watched while you browse in a store, and you don’t assume that it is because of the color of your skin, you are definitely enjoying white privilege.

If total strangers don’t say rude things to you and your white wife when you go out, then you might be enjoying white privilege.

If you can congregate in a public place with your friends after dark without arousing suspicion, then you might be enjoying white privilege.

If you are a mother and you are not afraid for the lives of your sons every time they are out of sight, you might be enjoying white privilege.

It is because of white privilege that people assume I have certain desirable traits and skills and don’t automatically assume that when I am in a store, I am shoplifting.

I don’t think I should have to explain that all lives really do matter, but it’s not all lives that are at risk right now — at least, not to the degree that black lives are at risk.

We seem to understand that all lives matter, but I am not convinced that we understand that black lives matter. As a society, we don’t act like black lives matter or like people of color matter. If you think black lives matter is silly as a movement, it could be that your white privilege has given you a blind spot — I know mine has.

It is white privilege that allows people to respond by saying that “all lives matter,” which is dismissive and disrespectful and more or less ends the conversation that we need to have right now.

We need to start by noticing white privilege. Black lives matter.

Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker/owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul. She is also the founder of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com.

Email Teresa Boardman.

Show Comments Hide Comments

Comments

Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
Success!
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top