MOURADIAN: White privilege and the fallout around us
(Getty Images file photo)
I would like to acknowledge to all of you that I know I have white male privilege. I believe that white male privilege actually exists and needs to be talked about and looked at.
So, how do I know that? Well, through experience and observation.
I have observed that whenever I am waiting to get service, I am many times looked at and acknowledged ahead of a person of colour, a teen, a person in a wheelchair, a woman or someone who looks different. Now I know that in many cases the person who acknowledges me is not necessarily prejudicial. They simply see me first and I believe in some cases see me as being someone who should be served first.
When this happens, I very politely point out that the other person is ahead of me. Of course, this sometimes surprises the other person and I usually get a huge smile and a grateful thank you. I believe it is important to look around and notice how you are treated and how “they” are treated. You will be surprised.
This is also common when I go to a restaurant. If I am with a non-white person or a woman, the server usually looks at me first and addresses me first. Again, these servers are not doing it on purpose.
Now some of you might be saying, “How does a white man have the right to speak of this?” Well, for 12 years I lived with a black man and experienced first-hand how differently we were treated as a couple.
My partner’s family arrived in Canada on the East Coast in the 1600s and my family arrived in Canada in the early 1900s. Whenever we were out in public together, more times than not he was asked where he was from and he would answer that he is Canadian. They would persist by saying that they wanted to know where his family was from and he again answered, Canadian, from Halifax. That didn’t seem good enough as they kept pressing until he became really annoyed and said, “Canada!”
Here’s the interesting thing. I was never, ever asked where my “people” came from, which was funny because he and his family were more Canadian than me and my family. But because I am white and don’t have an accent, I was never asked.
We white men need to understand that because of the colour of our skin, we do in fact have privilege. Once we can acknowledge this fact, then we can address racism. But I do know that this concept is difficult to grasp because our whiteness has allowed many of us to go about our business wondering what the big deal is.
If you look at a person of colour and assume that he or she is from another country, or you are talking to an Asian and are surprised that this Asian speaks perfect English, you are blind to your white male privilege. If you see a woman with a hijab and she speaks perfect English and you are taken aback, you are blind to your white male privilege.
Please I am not trying to put any of you down or criticize, I only want you to be aware that there is a race problem that needs to be acknowledged and talked about. People are treated differently based on the perception of who they are because of their skin colour, their religion, their sexual orientation, their gender and their intellectual or physical ability.
Dante said we don’t see the world as it truly is, we see the world from where we stand. It’s time to stand and in some cases take a knee to fight against discrimination of any kind.
— Ted Mouradian is a professional speaker and author of four books. He is president and co-founder of the 2% Factor Inc. and the creator of the Law of Cooperative Action. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.