White privilege. “The reality that a White person’s whiteness has come – and continues to come – with a vast array of benefits and advantages not shared by many people of Color (POC).”
Riding public transportation one summer day, I knowingly experienced white privilege first hand. I’m sitting on the bus at six in the evening, after a long, hard day at work. A middle-aged white woman boards the bus. She walks past four or five white males in seats, before reaching my seat. She stops and stares at me first. Then at each and every one of those four or five white males she just walked past. With nothing but a smile on her face, and no words at all, she demands my seat.
Looks at me as if to say, ‘Get out of my seat.’ And I look right back at her, and silently reply, ‘Over my dead body. Enjoy the ride. Lady.’ Why did she feel like I owed her MY seat? Furthermore, why did I feel like she felt like I owed her MY seat? After passing several seats occupied by white males and even some empty seats. Why did she feel like she could expect MY seat?
There was even an empty seat right next to me. She could have sat in that one if she wanted to sit in my section. Instead, she tried to play the privilege card on me. Unbeknownst to her, that’s my game. I continued to sit firm in my seat, back straight up and staring her back down. Two can play this game. Little lady. You feel like you should be sitting here? I feel like I should be sitting here, too. So, sitting here, I will continue to do.
White privilege used to be a six worded code phrase; ‘I’m free, white, and twenty-one.’ Now it’s a silent smirk and
an air of false confidence and over exaggerated entitlement. I think I will start saying ‘I’m free, black, and forty-five. Don’t pull my trigger!’
That’s how this all gets started. Phrases become popularized because they are considered ‘timely and clever’. On the other hand, they further inflate the ego of the phrase user. When it’s timely and clever it is hip and chic. Catchy, and people want to be hip. Then the phrase is picked up and repeated here, there and everywhere. But when it becomes an ego booster, it allows people who think they are better, to feel like they are better. And out comes the race cards.
What about other public places? It’s starting to seem like we don’t know how to coexist anymore, without the expectation of having the upper hand over those we feel are beneath us. Ever been on an elevator with someone of a different race than you? Ever get the feeling when they are dressed better than you are, you get treated less equal? But, when the shoe’s on the other foot and you’re the better dressed one. You get the respect you deserve.
I was on an elevator once. Standing way in the back and minding my own business. Along comes another middle-aged white woman. She leans on the back of the wall as I am. Then she asks me to push the button to the floor she wants. This suit doesn’t say ‘elevator operator’. I thought to myself. She’s closer to the buttons than I am. Call me petty or even paranoid. But, there’s something wrong in these two pictures. It’s only coincidental that the two stories both involve middle-aged white women.
I don’t think all middle-aged white women are like this. They just happen to be the subjects of my examples. Other women have been condescending towards me. It’s not a black or white thing. It’s a right versus black thing.
Condescending used to always mean talking down to your audience. Nowadays, more people prefer to define it closely with sarcasm. Excuse for everything. I was just joking. or, as long as you type ‘LOL’, whatever condescending remark you just wrote has magically lightened up tenfold.
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