I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between ‘being advantaged’ and ‘white privilege’. I think there is an important distinction. Being advantaged – or disadvantaged – usually is associated with having high/low socio-economic status. White privilege is something different. It is a fact that Afro-Americans are disproportionally disadvantaged and that fact is surely related to their unique historical experience – 200 years of slavery, plus 100 years of apartheid. But, that isn’t really what white privilege means. A poor, unskilled, unemployed, (disadvantaged) white workingman can still benefit from white privilege. And, a highly educated, high income, (advantaged) professional A-A woman can still suffer from ‘white privilege’.
Maybe this distinction is not that important – but I have found in conversations about race if you try to talk about the effects of the A-A historical experience, you will often get responses like “I (or my parents) came with nothing, had to struggle etc.”
I would like to get better at explaining how ‘white privilege’ is still alive in these days and that A-A persons, no matter how advantaged in socio-economic terms, are still hurt by encounters with ‘white privilege’. MT
The dialogue on race and white privilege that began this spring at the Princeton Public Library continues on first Mondays. “Continuing Conversations on Race and White Privilege is co-sponsored by Not in Our Town.
You do not need to have attended any of the sessions of the Not in Our Town series “Engaging Together to Explore White Privilege.” This will be a “drop-in” format, facilitated by members of the Princeton-based interracial and interfaith social action group.
Topics will include how we feel about the term “white privilege,” and issues relevant to our community and nation. The next sessions are December 7, January 4, and February 1 at 7:30 p.m. in the library’s conference room.
You’re never too old to learn! I’m looking forward to continuing the discussions on race and white privilege that we started at the Library on November 2.
With this post, NIOT begins a public blog. We hope the blog will help us communicate internally and externally.
A bit of history: Not In Our Town grew out of the meetings held during 1998 and 1999 by concerned members of the Unitarian-Universalist Congregation (UUC) of Princeton, the Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church (WSPC), and Nassau Presbyterian Church (NPC) to discuss problems of racial injustice in the Princeton community. The group thought it would be helpful to enlist the support of other faith congregations in order to create an interfaith organization to work together on these problems in the Princeton community.
To this end, in the fall of 1999, a letter was sent to several faith congregations inviting them to send representatives to an organizational meeting. A number of congregations responded. Those present strongly believed that, as faith community members, they had a responsibility to take a more activist role in matters relating to racial justice and reconciliation in Princeton.
As this group coalesced, it took the name Not In Our Town after a group in Billings, Montana, that had united its community to deal with several bias crimes that had occurred there. The current congregation members of NIOT are: Unitarian-Universalist Congregation, Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church (WSPC), The Jewish Center, Trinity Episcopal Church, Princeton Friends Meeting, Nassau Christian Center, Princeton United Methodist Church, and St. Paul’s Catholic Church. In the past, there has been some participation by the Islamic Society of Central Jersey, the Aquinas Foundation, Mt. Pisgah AME, Christ Congregation, Nassau Presbyterian Church and First Baptist Church.