Do you know how I finally came to realize I had white privilege? After years of arguing that my life was not privileged: about multiple assaults, rape, abuse, falling through cracks in college and with doctors, I finally shut up and started listening to what my non-white female friends were saying.
I thought about all the horrific obstacles I had to overcome to still be here; to still be alive and able to write about it. I thought about how much more difficult my life would have been had I not been white. Not only would it have undoubtedly been worse, but many less people would have given a damn. I started paying attention to the Michael Brown and Eric Garner stories and thought about how much I worried about my white, special son and realized how fortunate I was that I didn’t have to worry about him being gunned down for the color of his skin.
What I finally came to understand was though my challenges were difficult, I could never understand how challenging it would have been had I not been white. I now know that none of us can understand what it’s like for anyone else. That’s why instead of being defensive, I now keep my mouth shut and listen. I don’t understand (and never will), how hard it is to not be white. I do think I understand how hard it is to not be white, straight, and male. Therefore, just as I keep my mouth shut and listen, I wish others could learn to do the same. Stop playing defense and pay attention.