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Oct 07, 2014

WHITE PRIVILEGE pt.1

This post is dedicated to White people with the goal to increase awareness of White privilege, which may not be very pleasant to read. Please note that Whiteness is a race, not nationality or ethnicity. Someone recently said "I'm not White, I'm Italian." I asked, "Is your skin white?" Yes, if your skin is white, then you're White. For example, a Hispanic person may be considered White or non-White, depending on genetics. Even though there have been historical debates about the exact definition of race, let's detach ourselves from labeling and focus on the principle. Here I'm speaking about the skin color and how others perceive it.
 
Although there are various areas of privilege (e.g., ADDRESSING framework), the most influential and powerful advantage or disadvantage is one's skin color. That's what people see first and that's something one cannot change or hide. That brings me to the concept of White privilege. By definition, it "denotes both obvious and less obvious unspoken advantages that White persons may not recognize they have, which distinguishes it from overt bias or prejudice. These include cultural affirmations of one's own worth; presumed greater social status; and freedom to move, buy, work, play, and speak freely. The concept of White privilege also implies the right to assume the universality of one's own experiences, marking others as different or exceptional while perceiving oneself as normal."
 
As of lately, it has been emotionally difficult to be surrounded by painful discussions about racial disparities, particularly after the cases of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, John Crawford, and others. As a fiancée of a Black man, who is an educator, writer, leader, motivational speaker, booking manager, and activist, I am constantly surrounded by frank and raw discussions about societal oppression. I had privilege to see and hear what many other White people don't get opportunity to see and hear - internal and external experiences of people of color, pain inflicted on them by our system of Whiteness, and how I have unwillingly contributed to the maintenance of the system. So I'd like you to contemplate on some very important points:
 
•         The system of Whiteness does not attack any specific White people, so if you have an automatic thought "But I don't discriminate, I have people of color in my life, etc." please note that it is irrelevant, because it doesn't change the fact that the system is still oppressive toward non-Whites.
•         It may be very hard to contain defensiveness during the conversations about White privilege (and probably while you're reading this), because it makes us feel like we are personally under scrutiny; however, understanding that the issue is about the system and not about specific White people can help us keep an open mind and actually hear the experiences of people of color.
•         Speaking to people of color about their experiences can open our eyes on the realities of White privilege. I know it's real, because I have witnessed my fiancée being followed in stores, I have experienced him being stopped by police without any reason, I am witnessing his (and my own) pain each time he leaves the house, because he may never return.
•         Ask yourself these questions: Am I afraid that I will not be hired at a job because of my skin color? Am I afraid that I will be mistreated by police because of my skin color? Am I afraid to leave the house and not come back because of my skin color? Am I concerned that because of my skin color I will be mistreated some other way?
 
There are many other things I'd like to talk about, because this topic is way too extensive. I will continue in my next blog posts.
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Evelyn Pavlova is a counselor and an Ally, whose preferred population is LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, invisible minority, asexual, and ally) individuals. Her areas of interest are eating disorders, mood disorders, mindfulness, and spirituality. Read more about her new counseling journey at www.curvyroad.weebly.com 

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13 Comments

  1. 13 Rob Weston 08 Oct
    Ms. Evelyn Pavlova

    After reading your article about the “White Privilege”, I found
    it to be extremely biased, one-sided, unprofessional to the field of
    counseling, and downright ignorant. 
    There is no such thing as a white privilege, except to those how
    ignorantly believe there is.  You based
    your findings because of the interactions your boyfriend had, however you have
    not brought any real research to back-up this claim.  You use the Michael Brown case, the John Crawford
    case, and the Eric Garner case as if was the gospel truth however you fail to
    state the full facts.

                    Michael
    Brown had a history of criminal activity in his past, before the shooting occurred
    Brown just completed aggravated robbery on a store owner, and the moments
    before his death he assaulted the officer in an attempt to get his weapon
    resulting in the officer having a broken eye socket and possible loss of his
    eye sight.  This investigation is still
    on going, however you fail to mention this in your article and just claim racism
    as the outcome. Let note that it was discovered his friend omitted much of the
    encounter such as the assault on the officer.  

                    The
    John Crawford case just occurred and the investigation is still ongoing.  However, people want to blame the police on
    this without thinking about what information the police had when they received from
    dispatch or the original 911 call.  How
    about allowing the investigation to finish on this one before placing blame.

                    As for
    John Crawford, it was concluded the choke hold and pressure on his chest
    contributed to his death, however let’s look at all the facts.  He was committing a criminal offense selling black-market
    cigarettes.  Additionally, he was obese
    with asthma and heart disease.  Ultimately
    his criminal activity is the primary cause of death.  If he was not selling black-market contraband
    in the first place there is a chance he would be alive.   

                    Let me state
    this, when the roles are reversed there is no outrage, riots, or national
    attention.  Why, because white on black
    sells news.  Claims of racism pulls at
    the heart strings and gains attention.  Here
    are some examples for you; an identical case such as that in Ferguson Mo.,
    however the officer was black and the offender white. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/sep/3/justice-dillon-taylor-after-white-utah-man-fatally/.  Let’s continue this, during the rash of the “Knock-out
    Game” incidents, majority of the victims were white while most of the offenders
    were black.  However, although there is a
    huge race disparity between victims and assailants (white and black), no one
    claimed it to be racially motivated.  Is
    this the “White Privilege” you are talking about?  Why was there no outrage, why didn’t the
    white community riot and destroy their community, where was Al Sharpton or
    Jesse Jackson in this case?  Because no
    one wants to admit that racism is not one-sided, no one wants to face the truth
    that blacks also commit crimes based on the victim’s race.  

                    I will
    end it with the following thought for you.  There are many organizations in this country motivated
    by race to help support minorities that are commendable, but what about the
    white man?  White people also suffer from
    lack of good schools, access to education, suffer from poverty, have drug
    issues, and all the other blights that minorities suffer.  However I do not see a National Association
    for the Advancement of White People (NAAWP), a White Entertainment Television (WET),
    or any other organization to help white people. 
    Why is this?  When is
    Euro-American History Month?  Simply, it
    would be considered racism and not acceptable in our society.   The so called “White Privilege” you claim is
    a fallacy.  The white community is more
    accepting then you give them credit for. 
    Racism is bred in the home and within all races. No one race has an
    advantage over the other, and I would say that the white population has a
    disadvantage more than any other race.  As
    for myself, I look at the value of someone based on the content of their character,
    not by the color of their skin based of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr teachings.

  2. 12 David Core 10 Oct
    Just curious, how many Caucasians responded to this, and how many if they did , challenge it's integrity ? I will save my opinion. Just curious ? 

    Thank You, 
    David Core
  3. 11 Anita Good 16 Oct
    Rob, this video explains it well.

    White Privilege, Racism, White Denial & The Cost of Inequality:

    http://youtu.be/9AMY2Bvxuxc
  4. 10 Evelyn 22 Oct
    Rob,

    Your opinion was heard, but I must admit that it was painful to read for the sake of the people of color with whom you might be working in any capacity. As professionals, we are supposed to create safer spaces for minority individuals; however, your denial and defensiveness does exactly the opposite, which, in my personal opinion is borderline unethical. I'm actively involved in non-White community and I'm constantly surrounded by people of color (that is to clarify that my post wasn't solely based on my experiences with my fiance). Not only that, but these individuals are educated professionals, whose purpose is to create change and dismantle oppression. This means that I am constantly listening to their voices and shared experiences, which gives me direct knowledge. Among people of color there are words, such as "mansplaining," "cissplaining," and "Whitesplaining" - which translates into defensiveness and explanation in support of male dominance, cisgender dominance, and White persons' dominance. Your response, specifically the last paragraph, was a perfect example of, at least, mansplaining and Whitesplaining (as I cannot assume if you belong to any other categories). For you to wonder about White people's fate and disadvantage only exposes your lack of awareness and/or denial about the system in which you live - a system has been designed and governed by White, cis-, heteronormative men, which means that White men have the most access to the most resources simply because of their skin color and sex/gender compared to a similar standing of people of color. There is no reason for National Association for the Advancement of White People (NAAWP), a White Entertainment Television (WET), or Euro-American History Month to exist simply because Whites are acknowledged, visible, and  prioritized in our society. The reason that National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, BET, and Black History Month exist is because of erasure, oppression, and invalidation.

    In conclusion, everything that you said perpetuates oppression and erasure that has been prevalent for a very long time. Personally, it is none of my business what you believe or don't believe; however, it IS my business as a counseling professional, who is concerned for clients, particularly people of color with whom you might work and whose personal and collective history is by default erased and invalidated as soon as they come in contact with you. Through your defensiveness and denial, you perpetuate trauma that has been inflicted on people of color for ages. I'm not trying to change your mind; I'm trying to raise awareness for the sake of those who come in contact with us. 
     
    P.S. I hope that you do watch Anita Good's video that she shared with you.
  5. 9 Evelyn 24 Oct
    David,

    The comments that I have received have been posted here. At least the ones that were approved. I can't assume anyone's race unless it's personally revealed. Feel free to share your opinion though.​
  6. 8 Evelyn 24 Oct
    Anita,

    Thank you for sharing this important and informative video!​
  7. 7 QA 26 Oct
    Before opening the blog I felt my temperature change, I wasn't sure what I was about to read. After reading the blog, I must say that I understand the message behind it. In order to have empathy for non white persons, one must know where their own race stands in society. With that said, I'm not implying to think any less of...but understanding the privileges a race have because of their skin color could go in either direction. I've heard a person say to another before, "why should I feel sorry or be compassion towards that person because of the history between our race?" Good question I thought. I don't want that. I don't want any race to feel sorry for me because of the history of my race. We all should be encouraging unity, love, and prosperity within our race, but their is a fine line between building each other up and using those resources and continue to tear each other down. So, promote white privileges and use them to push forward for social justice.
  8. 6 Evelyn 27 Oct
    QA,

    Yes, it is definitely a sensitive subject, but that doesn't mean we should keep quiet any longer. I hear you that you don't want any race to feel sorry for you because of your collective history. I am not promoting pity either. My goal is to promote awareness, because without awareness there can be no change. As a White person, I have never felt sorry for my non-White family and friends, because it
    wouldn't do any good. However, I have definitely felt pain due to historical injustice that is still alive in our society. In regards to your last sentence, I hope that I didn't misunderstand it… I cannot agree with promoting White privilege, because by default it would mean promoting the power of White, heterosexual, cisgender, able bodied, middle-aged men who have been making decisions for and allocating resources to other individuals for a very long time. Promoting White privilege will not help us achieve social justice. Only
    challenging and dismantling the system will give us an opportunity to reconstruct how our society functions.  
  9. 5 QA 29 Oct
    I apologize, yes I meant to say bring awareness to white privileges and use them to promote social justice. Because without deeming concepts issues they tend to go unnoticed. Being aware of white privileges within this systems bring forth injustice...great post.
  10. 4 Timothy Thornton 01 Nov
    The fact that some people ignore that there is such a thing as White privilege is very concerning.  Like Evelyn stated, its not directed toward any white individual, it is a system problem.  When people respond to White privilege by saying, "where is the White Entertainment Television," and "why isn't there any White History Month to celebrate?"  Why, because White Entertainment Television is all NBC, ABC, FOX, and CBS.  White History Month is the other 11 months in the year.  I am White and have had privilege my entire life, where minorities have not.  Simple things such as how I am treated in public by the person scanning groceries, or how I have never been followed around in a store.  Little things like this contribute to the overall picture of White privilege.  In the counseling program I am currently attending there is one African American in the entire program.  If people who have never felt the pressure of being the minority could just try to put themselves in a situation where you are the only minority and the topic is based purely on White male, Eurocentric thoughts and ideas and see how you feel about White privilege.  The Color of Fear is a very good video that shows just how it can feel to be the minority in this system.  This does not mean that Micheal Brown is innocent or John Crawford is innocent.  Once the investigations are done, then it can be debated, until then there is no point.  However, to deny White privilege exists is negligent and not helpful to anyone.
  11. 3 Leanne 06 Jan
    Rob,

    Where did you receive your training?  Your lack of self- and cultural-awareness is concerning.  As a licensed psychologist and supervisor, I am shocked that someone from your training program, practicum site, or internship site did not challenge you on your lack of multicultural awareness. 
  12. 2 Madi 15 Jan
    Rob Weston, is it wrong for me to hope that you do not work in the counseling field and that you are in great need of a both Multicultural class and a History class?
    I will write more about this subject a little later, however I am appalled at Rob Weston's ignorance and a little bit horrified that he may be working with clients whom are oppressed on a daily basis just because the color of their skin. 
  13. 1 Sydney 12 Jun
    Practical ideas . I was enlightened by the points ! Does anyone know where I might get access to a fillable a form example to use ?

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