Imagine if white privilege was treated like the national health crisis it is…similar to how smoking awareness has evolved over the years. National campaigns funded to educate the general public of its harmful affects, surgeon general warnings, research grants to study how it harms individuals and communities. As with lighting up that cigarette, you can make the decision to still engage in the harmful activity, but there are laws preventing you from spreading your carcinogens when you blow it out into the world. Laws and taxes that make it more difficult every day…until you stop.
In only a few generations we’ve seen how the overall population went from complete indifference and denial of the harmful effects of tobacco, to now a general consensus that it is an unhealthy practice. Can we do the same to raise awareness of white privilege and implicit bias?
If we viewed advertisements featuring people speaking through the race-based trauma induced stomas of their souls, would the nation listen and change its attitude?
Would billboards highlighting statistics, listing the numbers of our babies lost, mothers suffocated by the secondhand smoke of badge protected guns…“I can’t breathe”…would it make you think twice before shouting ‘race card’ or ‘stop playing the victim’?
I wonder, if there was a surgeon general’s warning: “Black lives matter in this nation and purchase of this material promotes white supremacy and may result in your presence inciting fear and post traumatic stress among persons of color in your community”…would purchasing that confederate flag and waving it under the pretext of pride be as easily thoughtless?
If we cannot collectively agree that white privilege is a destructive reality and not just some liberal populist rhetoric, we will continue to fail in addressing systemic inequities and bias related tragedies in our communities. Instead, these realities will be relegated to scholarly fodder that, like politics and religion, has become taboo at our dinner tables, in our classrooms, and work meetings.
Let’s lobby for THAT national awareness campaign, offering white privilege cessation programs and insurance incentives for coming clean and staying aware. It’s a national crisis; we must stop inhaling our privileges and exhaling our biases. It would be far from easy and would take therapy and personal responsibility….but I have to believe it would make having this necessary national conversation (and conversion) more feasible.
This article originally appeared on Medium
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