Numerous people have been posting the following post on Facebook in the wake of George Floyd’s death:
I have privilege as a white person because I can do all of these things without thinking twice:
I can go birding (#ChristianCooper)
I can go jogging (#AmaudArbery)
I can relax in the comfort of my own home (#BothemSean and #AtatianaJefferson)
I can ask for help after being in a car crash (#JonathanFerrell and #RenishaMcBride)
I can have a cellphone (#StephonClark)
I can leave a party to get to safety (#JordanEdwards)
I can play loud music (#JordanDavis)
I can sell CDs (#AltonSterling)
I can sleep (#AiyanaJones)
I can walk from the corner store (#MikeBrown)
I can play cops and robbers (#TamirRice)
I can go to church (#Charleston9)
I can walk home with Skittles (#TrayvonMartin)
I can hold a hair brush while leaving my own bachelor party (#SeanBell)
I can party on New Years (#OscarGrant)
I can get a normal traffic ticket (#SandraBland)
I can lawfully carry a weapon (#PhilandoCastile)
I can break down on a public road with car problems (#CoreyJones)
I can shop at Walmart (#JohnCrawford)
I can have a disabled vehicle (#TerrenceCrutcher)
I can read a book in my own car (#KeithScott)
I can be a 10yr old walking with our grandfather (#CliffordGlover)
I can decorate for a party (#ClaudeReese)
I can ask a cop a question (#RandyEvans)
I can cash a check in peace (#YvonneSmallwood)
I can take out my wallet (#AmadouDiallo)
I can run (#WalterScott)
I can breathe (#EricGarner)
I can live (#FreddieGray)
I CAN BE ARRESTED WITHOUT THE FEAR OF BEING MURDERED (#GeorgeFloyd)
White privilege is real. Take a minute to consider a Black person’s experience today.
Although it’s always a good thing to raise awareness of instances of injustice and to consider the experiences of other people, I strongly disagree with the concept of “white privilege.”
All of the things listed in the post are rights, not privileges. To go birding is a right. To go jogging or running is a right. To relax in the comfort of one’s own home is a right. To go to church or to Walmart or to a corner store is a right. To hold a cell phone or skittles or even a weapon is a right. To cash a check is a right. To go to a party, decorate for a party, or leave a party is a right. Sleeping is a right. Breathing is a right. Living is a right.
To classify these things as privileges is to argue that people do not have a right to do them. It is to argue that the problem is the fact that white people are able to do these things without thinking twice, as opposed to the fact that black people are not.
Even if you accept that all of the people listed in the post were victimized because they were black – which I do not, because in many of the instances there is no evidence that racial motivation was involved – that does not mean that white people have privilege. What it means is that the rights of black people are being violated. This is an injustice that everyone should fight against, and the way to fight against it is to make it so that black people’s rights are not being violated anymore, not to make it so that white people’s rights are being violated too.
Let’s work towards a society in which everyone, regardless of skin color, can walk and run about freely, not a society in which no one can.