Make privilege visible

“One meaning of being white is that we are granted unearned privileges and structural power simply by reason of our race, without regard for our personal attitudes, values, and commitments. Peggy McIntosh has noted that “privilege is a fugitive subject” about which white people were meant to remain oblivious.3 Making privilege visible to ourselves and others demands constant vigilance. Without that vigilance, we are indeed dangerous because we behave like dinosaurs that drag a large tail behind us. Unable to see the tail, and convinced of our good intentions, we are oblivious to the havoc we wreak as we move through the world, knocking people over and flattening things in our path.4 How do we do this? By presuming we can speak for others, imposing our mission and outreach projects on others, discounting as “ungrounded” the fears and criticisms voiced by people of color, dismissing their pain as overreacting, accusing them of “playing the race card” when they call us on our oppressive behavior, and then shifting the focus to our hurt feelings.

“Making privilege visible is only the first step. In our spheres of influence, we need to interrupt racism by challenging the practices and policies that protect privilege and keep it in place. We can use privilege to ensure that power is more equitably shared. We can shine a light on every program, ministry, and endeavor we are engaged in, asking: Whose voices are being sought out and heard? Who decides what is right, beautiful, true, and valued? Whose cultural perspectives are overrepresented and whose are underrepresented? Who is seen as important to the mission and who is seen as less important?”

– Melanie S. Morrison

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