And that was when my education about white privilege began in ernest. Fifteen years later and I’m still learning what that looks like and how to talk about it without garnering hostility or defensiveness or falling back on stereotypes. Since becoming parents, Paul and I have talked a lot about these issues and how we go about the business of raising a mixed family: like teaching our white child that he may one day have to defend his brown brothers in a conflict. But it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I was gripped with the sickening realization that since we now have a white daughter, we were going to have to also explain to our boys exactly how NOT to treat her in public— lest some sibling horsing around is misinterpreted by a stranger and leads to an unwanted confrontation. How am I going to teach my children about privilege without giving them all total complexes??
How would you explain it to your children? Do you feel like you need to?
And there’s the rub. It wouldn’t even occur to a lot of us to give these sorts of conversations voice. For many of us, carting around our moral outrage appears gratuitous. Given the ease at which I move around in this world, I’m either accused of having a giant, white-guilt chip on my shoulder, or worse— that given the way we’ve chosen to build our family, I’m acting as some kind of saviour.
Fine. And even though the former is somewhat true and the latter is… well… if you met me, you would quickly see I’m no messiah, I will take those labels if it means we can talk about it. I’ve got a chip and I would be happy to share some of it with you….