What is White Privilege, really?
The term 'White Privilege' has often been misunderstood. White privilege does not equate to financial privilege. It does not mean that you’re free from challenges in life or that you don't work hard. It means that the colour of your skin isn’t making your life more difficult. It means that you benefit because racism exists.
Put simply, you receive help, often unacknowledged assistance, because you are white.
How do I benefit from White Privilege?
Hear are some clear and tangible examples of white privilege:
- I am not repeatedly asked where I am really from
- I am sure that the police won’t single me out because of my skin colour
- I am less likely to die in childbirth
- I am often not the only white person in the room
- I have never been worried that my children will be subjected to racist comments.
- I can turn on the television or open the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented
- I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group
- I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time
- I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed
- When I am told about our national heritage or about 'civilization', I am shown that people of my colour made it what it is.
What is allyship?
The NHS define allyship as about "building relationships of trust, consistency and accountability with marginalised individuals and/or groups of people."
You may not be a member of an underinvested or oppressed group, but there is lots you can do to support them and make the effort to understand their struggle and use your voice alongside theirs.
6 simple ways to be a good ally
It isn’t enough to not be racist. You have to be anti-racist to contribute towards positive change.
- Talk and listen - Ask team members from ethnic minority backgrounds how they are feeling - create safe spaces by really listening to their answers and discussing their issues. Don't get defensive and don't overpower.
- Educate yourself - Don’t always rely on the people you are supporting to educate you. There is so much material available - articles, blogs, books, podcasts, videos, films, TV and documentaries. Look at the books on your bookshelf, how many are from black authors? Look at the books you read to your children - how diverse are the characters in the books?
- Speak up - Don’t be afraid of getting it wrong. If you see something that makes you uncomfortable say something. Call out racist stereotyping and micro-aggressions - criticise what was said rather than the person. Discuss what you learn in your own circles by opening up conversations with friends and family
- Ask questions - If there’s something you don’t understand, ask and don’t be afraid to be seen as ‘jumping on the bandwagon’, we need to keep the conversation going. Ask senior leaders what they are doing to drive race equality in the workplace at all levels
- Resist ‘White Saviour Complex' - Understand that your role as an ally is not to ‘fix’. Try not to give advice or take action on their behalf. Ask “is there anything I can do to help?”
- Self-reflect and keep going - be aware of how you use your voice and your actions. Be committed.