Monday, March 30, 2009

White Privilege

On Friday, my high school's Sociology class had a race.

The first one to the top of the hill got $10. Mucho money right? ...well if your a high schooler it means a lot.

The Sociology teacher stood at the top of the hill holding the bill in his outstretched hand. All of the students were lined up, equally, on the starting line.

Before the race began ,however, he asked the students some questions and if the question applied to them they would take a number of steps forward or backward, for example:

If you do not know the PG&E bill in your household, please take 2 steps forward.

If a member in your family has ever been arrested, take one step back.


If you have ever been to Europe, Disney World, or Hawaii twice or more, take a step forward.

Not surprisingly, most minority students stayed behind, or took steps back

The questions soon got personal.

If you've ever been discriminated based on your race,religion or gender please take a step back

If you've ever tried to assimilate to fit in with the majority, take a step back

Soon, as one student commented, he couldn't go back any further.

By the time the teacher was done asking, he simply said:

"On your mark, get set, go."

Now if you take a minute to think about it, who would you think won?

Caucasians were in the front, minorities way in the back. A few were in the middle.
This wasn't a stab at white people but to show how the world really functions.

An upperclassmen who took the class stated that she and her friends stayed behind deciding that it was pointless to even try.

Some, like my older brother, actually ran, and came up 2nd place. But at least he tried.

When a white girl won in my brother's class and listened to the sobbing discussion that took place after, she felt guilty and gave the money back.

"Don't feel guilty." The teacher said, "Because guilt will only lead to anger. The only way you can fix this is by educating the next generation."

And I wholeheartedly agree. It'd be pointless to shrug off all this negativity in the world and say "Well, I don't believe this is right, if we were in an ideal world..." We're not.

I will probably be discriminated against many times in my life, and be put down due to who I am and what I stand for. But this class 'race' resonated in me, it told me that I'll never be good enough. That no matter how hard I try, I will never be as good as the majority (who happen to white) in this country. I'm not implying hatred toward anyone, but the naivete that I've grown up with has been snatched from me.

I do know the PG&E bill in my house, and no I've never left the country before on some sort of extravagant vacation. I am not expecting to be getting a special 'tutor' for my SATs or a car for graduation (well at least not a new one). The BS schools teach now a days, that I can be whatever I want and peace and love and crap ISN'T TRUE.

The real world doesn't care where you graduated from or with what honors if they have a lighter skinned applicant to compare you with. As wikipedia puts it, "a person benefiting from white privilege does not necessarily hold racist beliefs or prejudices himself and can be, as is often the case, unaware of his privilege."

And I am not angry at that person, I am angry at the system 'the MAN' that wishes to hold me down, and make me ignorant just for being different. But times are a changin' and if we educate ourselves and others, racism prejudice and 'white privilege' can and will be eradicated from society.

But on a lighter note, once I do apply for a job, I'll be more likely to get hired due to my "white-sounding" name.


P.S My brother kept the $10 one of the guys gave him


Shavon said...

That was an excellent project the teacher did. However, you saying that it wasn't surprising that blacks stepped back was really a terrible thing to say. Not surprising? Every group has their fair share of stereotypical issues but it doesn't make it okay to apply it to all. As a black person that pisses me off

Mona said...

This is a great post. I hope everyone learned something. White people don't see White privilege, they just don't. I love the cartoon!

singamaraja said...

Singamaraja reading your blog

*~Ange~* said...

SMART teacher!

ModestJustice said...

Ange- Very smart teacher indeed, he was taught to be a racist by his parents but the real world changed all of that

ModestJustice thanking you for reading my blog

Mona- I hope we all did

Shavon- I think what I actually said was, "Not surprisingly, most minority students stayed behind, or took steps back" Every group does indeed have their own share of stereotypes. Thank you for taking the time to thoroughly read my post.

Brooke said...

Asalamu Walaikum Sis,
I'm doing some exploration of white privilege in a carnival on my blog. I may write up a final solutions/recommendations post, if so, can I link you? These kind of exercises are really powerful and I fantasy about implementing them within the Ummah somehow!
Love and Peace

ModestJustice said...

Wa alaikum salam sister (:

Of course you may link me, I'd feel honored! If we somehow used them for the benefit of the Ummah I'd love to see it! This exercise's meaning still resonates within me.

Love you for the sake of Allah swt :]

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