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Because I Am White: An Incomplete List Of Privileges

Because I am white, I am more likely to have a gun put in my hands than to have one pulled on me. In fact, this has even already happened to me (I wasn’t yet finished high school when my father brought home a gun from his workplace and put it in my mother’s hands before putting it in mine and shouting at me until I pulled the trigger).

Because I am white, I am more likely to carry a loaded gun out in the open—without putting myself in any danger—than I am to be gunned down while armed with nothing more than a bottle of iced tea, a bag of skittles, a cell phone, or even a 14-month-old child.

Because I am white, I am more likely to walk free after taking another person’s life if I claim self-defence (even if the victim was unarmed and/or walking away from me), than I am to be given a maximum sentence for first degree murder for successfully defending my life against life-threatening violence.

Because I am white, I am more likely to be a victim of violence at the hands of someone close to me than at the hands of a person in a police uniform (I have, for most of my life already, been a repeated victim of violence by people closest to me).

Because I am white, in order to be targeted at all by a person in a police uniform, I would literally have to go out of my way to make myself a target first; rather than being targeted simply for existing.

Because I am white, I am more likely to graduate high school or obtain a degree from college/university than I am to be sent to prison. Currently in Canada, the opposite is the case for indigenous youth.

Because I am white, if I choose to potentially endanger myself by making myself a target of authority, I am more likely to stay alive and out of prison than to be put to death or in handcuffs.

Because I am white, if I choose to potentially endanger myself by making myself a target of authority, I am more likely to be given a stern talking-to or to be condescended to (e.g., police making empty threats of arrest or attempting to talk me out of whatever I am doing, no matter my lawful right to continue doing it) than I am to be answered with any kind of physical force.

Because I am white, I can deliberately antagonize police with little to no consequences.

Because I am white, I am more likely to receive media attention, which is almost always going to be spun in my favour, after any interaction with police or any other arm of the justice system, no matter what I may or may not have done that is against the law, against the status quo, against common sense, or against my own rational self-interest.

Because I am white, I am more likely to phone the police during what I believe to be an emergency than to have the police phoned on me regardless of whether or not any actual emergency is taking place.

Because I am white, I am more likely to be served by the police than be seized by them.

Because I am white, I am more likely to be protected by the police than be beaten by them.

Because I am white, I am more likely to confidently and successfully manipulate the written word of law in my favour in literally any situation rather than be fearful or apprehensive of the consequences coming to me personally for even daring to think about appealing to any form of law for assistance. In fact, over the past ten years, I have not only done this enough times to directly experience critical lessons in the application and enforcement of the law (mind you, almost exclusively against fellow white people, who have been disproportionately responsible for my experiences of violence); but also to directly experience how differences in social class dramatically influence virtually the same circumstances in divergent ways once police are involved; and finally to lose virtually all of what little faith I ever had in the “justice” system.

Because I am white, I am more likely to appeal to written law (especially legal definitions either implicit or explicitly given in written law) at virtually every instance where I think it will serve me to do so, rather than criticize written law (including constraints and absurdities of legal definitions) at virtually any instance where someone has made an appeal to it. It is worth noting that virtually all of North American law has always been and still is written by white hands for the explicit interests of whites; and always has been and still is enforced disproportionately and severely upon people of colour in terms of higher rates of both apprehension and execution by police for the same suspected criminal activities, and harsher sentencing for the same convictions. It is also worth noting that historically, in North America, indigenous peoples were thrown in jail for having tattoos, participating in any capacity in virtually any traditional ceremony, leaving the reserve of their own free will, or refusing to comply with their children being apprehended for the purposes of being placed in residential schools; Blacks were thrown in jail (or murdered) for leaving the house without identification and for any and all resistance to slavery and segregation; and multiple peoples of other racial demographics were thrown in internment camps simply for existing.

Because I am white, it is highly improbable that I will be apprehended, detained, or brought up on charges for participating in a protest or riot, except where the protest or riot concerned is predominantly exercised by fellow white people (with minimal presence or complete absence of people of colour).

Because I am white, my interactions with police will not become a television sensation—especially while the ratings are still so high for watching police ceaselessly terrorize communities of colour.

Because I am white, I am more likely to gain the compliance and favour of police, even if they are phoned on me, than I am to experience phoning the police on my own behalf and in the interests of my own safety, only to be apprehended by them.

Because I am white, I am guaranteed the ability to walk or drive down any street on the continent of North America, any day of the year and any time of the day or night, without arousing suspicion, hostility, or acts of violence from police simply for being there.

Because I am white, I never have to think twice about leaving the house without carrying photo identification on me.

Because I am white, in all of the history of North America, I’ve never been—and very likely never will be—required to carry mandatory identification created exclusively for members of my race, lest I be stopped by police and arrested for failing to bring it with me when I leave the house (noting of course that historically, certain European ethnic groups considered white for just a few decades, including 75% of my own ethnic background, were not always considered white, due to religious—not racial—persecution).

Because I am white, if I should ever be executed by a police officer, I will never be posthumously humiliated by photo displays of me on the news that imply a propensity towards crime or gang affiliation, regardless of whether or not I was ever involved in crime or gangs. My past criminal history (which actually exists and consists of one dropped charge for shoplifting under $5000 during the first time I was homeless) will also never be mentioned.

Because I am white, if I should ever be executed by a police officer, I am more likely to receive immediate sympathetic attention from national news media, and an immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding my death and the police officer(s) involved in bringing it about, than I am to be completely ignored for days, years, or even decades.

Because I am white, if I should ever be executed by a police officer, the officer(s) responsible for my death is/are more likely to treat my body with respect and dignity rather than leave my body exposed for hours (e.g., as police in Ferguson did to the body of Mike Brown), dump my body somewhere else so as to give the appearance that they were not responsible for my death in any way (e.g., as police in Vancouver, BC did to the body of Frank Paul when they dumped him into the alley behind the police detachment), or drag my body around as if I were a bag of trash or medical waste (e.g., as RCMP in Whitehorse did to the body of Raymond Silverfox after denying him access to urgently needed medical care for 13 and a half hours while detaining him without cause).

Because I am white, if I should ever be executed by a police officer, the officer(s) responsible for my death is/are more likely to publicly and immediately express remorse and trauma surrounding their decisions in my last moments than to be shielded entirely by coworkers from liability, news media, or criminal investigation.

Because I am white, if I should ever go missing or be murdered by someone other than a police officer, I am more likely to receive sympathetic attention from national news media than I am to be ignored entirely. This stands in sharp contrast to epidemic disappearances and murders of people of colour—especially indigenous and Black women—which are consistently ignored by national news media, even as repeated pleas for inquiry are made from advocacy organizations on both the national and international scale.

Because I am white, if I should ever go missing or be murdered, I will never be posthumously humiliated by photo displays of me on the news that imply a propensity towards crime or gang affiliation, regardless of whether or not I was ever involved in crime or gangs.

Because I am white, if I should ever go missing or murdered, I am guaranteed that it will never be part of a national epidemic of crime against members of my race (with the prominent exception of serial murderers who target a specific demographic, which may or may not even include members of my race).

Because I am white, if I should ever take my own life, I am guaranteed that it will never be a part of a national epidemic of suicide among members of my race.

Because I am white, if I should ever take my own life, I am more likely to be treated as the subject of a national tragedy than I am to be completely ignored except by my closest family and friends.

Because I am white, if I should ever take my own life, I am more or less guaranteed to be the subject of a flood of attention, and an outpouring of grief, respect, and support, even from complete strangers who never knew of my existence before I ceased to exist; and any aggravating circumstances leading to my decision may even become the subject of bills to amend legal protections for victims of abuse and violence, or criminal liability for those engaging in bullying or cyberbullying.

Because I am white, if I should ever take my own life, I am guaranteed to be described as suffering from depression rather than as mentally ill; and if the circumstances surrounding my suicide should involve illicit drugs (e.g., an overdose — either intentional or accidental), the focus will still be on my alleged depression rather than alleged drug addiction, gang activity, involvement in organized crime, or other implications of innate criminality.

Because I am white, I am more likely to graduate from high school or even obtain a degree from college/university than I am to commit suicide. Currently in Canada, suicide epidemics among indigenous youth living on reserves indicate the opposite is true for them.

Because I am white, I am more likely to be insulated from the collective concerns and struggles of any community of colour, by my own unquestioned propensity to constantly surround myself with other white people.

Because I am white, I am more likely to be exalted for literally any efforts I make in the interests of advancing the collective rights of people of colour than I am to be slandered, harassed, intimidated, threatened, endangered, or harmed for it—either personally or professionally.

Because I am white, I am more likely to be exalted for my efforts (especially by my own people) to “help”, “rescue”, or be of service to people of colour—regardless of whether or not my contribution was even wanted or helpful—than I am to be slandered, harassed, intimidated, threatened, endangered, or harmed for it.

Because I am white, I am more likely to reduce the concerns and struggles of communities of colour to a form of social currency, which I can then deliberately exploit (also: co-opt) in strategic exchanges for relationships I pursue; rather than remain genuinely open to learning from challenges that find me, for the sake of my self-improvement (as opposed to external “improvements” in who surrounds me), or for the sake of embodying the empathy I am not to proud to preach at my fellow whites.

Because I am white, I am more likely to misappropriate mannerisms, catchphrases, specific items of attire and/or accessories that hold specific meaning or communicate specific things within the community or culture of origin, ceremonial garments, artwork and/or artistic stylings, traditions, ceremonies, and even sacred items from cultures or subcultures of colour; rather than reclaim similar artifacts of my own culture(s) of origin.

Because I am white, if I do engage in cultural (or subcultural) misappropriation, I am more likely to defend my actions than to think about why I’ve committed them.

Because I am white, if I do engage in cultural misappropriation, I am more likely to claim that my own experience of seeing my culture(s) of origin misappropriated (e.g., the revival of kilts—in pornography that consistently borders on pedophilic) is of equal or greater importance than I am to think about how this experience runs parallel to (but not on equal footing with) the criticism I am receiving of my own decisions.

Because I am white, I am guaranteed to see my own people in pop media, repeatedly engaging in cultural misappropriation, as a way to assume claim over the collective identities of communities of colour; and then my people will consistently have the gall to pretend to perform that identity better than all of their colour sidekicks and adversaries — even if they first assumed that identity part way through that very depiction.

Because I am white, I am guaranteed to see my own people in pop media, repeatedly portraying major historical figures who were people of colour—even going so far as to either be painted up in blackface/brownface—rather than see these major historical figures who were people of colour depicted by actual people of colour.

Because I am white, I am guaranteed to see my own people in pop media, repeatedly portraying major historical and mythological figures who would have been people of colour, as if they were white people—even white people with an accent from a language that didn’t exist yet for several millenia, and which developed in a land far away with no direct racial, cultural, or historical connections—rather than see these major historical and mythological figures depicted by actual people of colour.

Because I am white, I am guaranteed to see my people in pop media, repeatedly playing the role of the Great White Saviour, even when my people are directly responsible in the same film for bringing about the genocide of the people they are saving.

Because I am white, I am guaranteed to see my people become the central focus of any artifact of pop media dealing with a person of colour discussing how That One Good White Person served them during their struggle for civil rights. No matter how marginal that white person’s involvement, and no matter how conflicted they were about the choice they made, their voice or contribution will become dominant over the achievements of those whose defiance they served.

Because I am white, I am guaranteed to see my people in pop media, repeatedly appearing as innately benevolent and superior in every way to people of colour (even when they are playing the role of a specific person of colour); rather than seeing my people being repeatedly depicted as innately violent/malevolent, innately criminal, innately amoral/immoral, innately hypersexual, primitive, inferior, child-like, simple, animalistic, uncivilized, frozen in time several centuries behind “modern civilization”, illiterate, and/or barbaric — or in a word: savages.

Because I am white, I am more likely to see men of my own race in pop media depicted as sexually intelligent, sophisticated, and inherently irresistible; rather than sexually hostile, primitive, barbaric, predatory, and unable to “turn off”.

Because I am white, I am more likely to see women of my own race in pop media depicted as sexually innocent, chaste, virgins, or innately sex-less than I am to see them depicted as sexually deviant, promiscuous, sexually experienced, or functionally inseparable from sex.

Because I am white, I am more likely to see women of my own race in pop media depicted as agents of their own sexuality than I am to see them depicted as though their bodies were public objects of sexual amusement, curiosity, or spectacle.

Because I am white, I am more likely to see women of my own race in pop media portrayed as entering (and inevitably exiting) a temporary stage of “personal growth” or a “phase” — characterized by intense sexual excitability — than I am to see them portrayed as fulfilling an inevitable and enduring state of being oversexed, as if they were arriving at their hypersexual destiny or confirming a sexual stereotype.

Because I am white, I can feel completely safe as a woman dressing scantily in public (or completely undressing), openly embracing a sense of pride in being sexually promiscuous, and/or calling myself a “slut”, and know that I will be perceived by women of my own race as being a “radical” for doing so; rather than be perceived as a bold-faced insult to women of my race.

Because I am white, I will never hear a word from anyone about the way my eyes and/or eyelids, lips, nose, forehead, and/or vulva are shaped.

Because I am white, I will never hear a word from anyone about the colour of my palms and elbows, or my genitalia.

Because I am white (and not an identical twin), I will never hear the words “I can never tell you guys apart.” Or the words “You all just look the same to me.”

Because I am white, I will never hear the words “I just can’t understand your accent.”

Because I am white, I will never hear the words (spoken at shouting volume) “Do you speak English!”

Because I am white, it will never be assumed that I am illiterate.

Because I am white, I will never hear the words (coming from a complete stranger’s mouth) “Can I touch your hair?”

Because I am white, I will never be accosted by a stranger attempting to touch my hair without regard for my consent to be touched, and no one will ever be in shock or awe at the “discovery” of my hair’s natural texture.

Because I am white, no one will ever offer to pay me to let them touch my hair, or to let them touch my child’s hair (not that I personally have a child, but this is largely beside the point).

Because I am white, I will never hear the words “Where are you from?” Or the words “No, I meant where are your parents from?” Or the words “No, I meant what is your ethnic background?”

Because I am white, I will never hear someone take 20 wrong guesses at the answer to their own inquiry into my ethnic background.

Because I am white, I will never hear someone say, trying to correct my answer to their question about my ethnic background, “Really? I thought you were (insert any ethnic group that originates from the opposite side of the globe as my people do).”

Because I am white, it will never be assumed that I am an immigrant.

Because I am white, I will never be illegally and cruelly detained or deported for crossing an international border without the right papers (believe me when I say this — I have actually successfully crossed both ways without the right papers) or for seeking refugee status during a time of crisis or war without filling out the appropriate paperwork first.

Because I am white, never in the history of North America will I have ever been refused entry upon my arrival after months at sea, subjected to a head tax upon my arrival, or deported after I established myself as a productive participant of society despite all odds being stacked against me.

Because I am white, I will never be racially profiled on my way to board a plane or cross an international border.

Because I am white, it will never be assumed on sight alone that I am a drug dealer or cartel.

Because I am white, it will never be assumed on sight alone that I am a drunk or a drug addict.

Because I am white, it will never be assumed on sight alone that I am a religious fanatic and/or terrorist.

Because I am white, it will never be assumed on sight alone that I am a spiritual leader, guru, elder, or teacher.

Because I am white, it will never be assumed that my own spiritual experiences, or guidance or teachings I have received, that I choose to share with others, hold any merit or truth unless they are from a tradition from which I personally do not originate (i.e., from the traditions of communities of colour; especially indigenous traditions) — in which case, my following will be conspicuously dominated by whites.

Because I am white, it will never be assumed on sight alone that I am the parent of one or several illegitimate children, or that I am a deadbeat parent.

Because I am white, it will never be assumed on sight alone that I am a parent solely for the purpose of collecting more government benefits or welfare cheques.

Because I am white, I will never have to know the pain of having my children illegally apprehended because of my race. It is worth noting that while the parents of children from certain white ethnic groups around the globe have historically experienced child apprehension without cause, it was because of their religious beliefs — not their race, and it was more often than not the parents themselves who apprehended their own children to be indefinitely detained outside the home in abusive institutions; while presently, the parents of certain communities of colour (especially indigenous communities on reserves) continue to stare this intergenerational trauma in the face of every day of their lives (with non-indigenous communities off reserve even attempting to illegally apprehend entire generations of children once they have the first child, with no legitimate cause whatsoever for successive apprehensions).

Because I am white, I can liberally abuse my own children without concern for the possibility that they may be apprehended from me, while people of colour will have their children apprehended from them on the basis of mere suspicion and rumour.

Because I am white, my two siblings and I were all severely neglected and abused by both parents (in their own distinctive ways) from very early childhood until we all left home at or shortly after turning age of majority, without ever being monitored by social services, even after we were reported following an incident involving police between one of my siblings and one of my parents. During the same time period, indigenous children throughout the country were still being apprehended, by threat of force or imprisonment against the parents, and detained in residential schools and/or foster homes where they would not be raised in their traditions of origin (and were more often than not raised to be ashamed of their origins).

Because I am white, it is with exceptionally low probability that I will ever hear the words “Go back to Europe!” In fact, I would very likely have to go out of my way to antagonize and race-bait a person of colour first.

Because I am white, when I make a mistake or an error in judgment, I am more likely to be given the benefit of the doubt than I am to be held up to superhuman standards.

Because I am white, I am more likely to perceive race solely in terms of either physical attributes—such as skin colour—or faceless statistics conveniently abstracted from any greater context, than in terms of the overarching and intersecting structures of society or its historical roots and present state of ongoing genocide and systematic dehumanization of people of colour.

Because I am white, I am more likely to believe in ghosts than in systemic racial injustice.

Because I am white, my racism will be considered socially normative, rather than perceived and treated as a mental illness or deficit shared collectively by members of my race, despite how patently psychotic this ideology is.

Because I am white, I am not subjected to a million small racially motivated deaths of my spirit on a daily basis.

This list is just an incomplete statement of my personal observations of the influence of race/ethnicity in the society I was born into and live in—Canada.

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