White privilege is made up of the advantages that whites enjoy in American society, things that they take for granted that others, like blacks, cannot. Just like those with money take certain things for granted, so do those with a white skin.
Most whites are blind to their own white privilege. It is the wind beneath their wings that they do not feel – because it is always there, because they take it for granted. They do not have to know about it or be racist to benefit.
Ampersand put it well:
Privilege is driving a smooth road and not even knowing it.
And when they go faster and farther than others they think it is because they are better drivers.
Being white is not all peaches and cream, but it does have its advantages:
- The police will not stop you for no good reason. Or shoot you unless you are clearly armed. They will even keep your neighbourhood safe.
- Car salesmen will charge you less.
- Employers will pay you more. Even more than a black person with more experience and education than you have. At work your ideas will be listened to more, you will trusted with more important things, you will be able to move up more easily and people are less likely to doubt that you can do something.
- If you are rushed to the hospital, doctors will try harder to save your life.
- Poor whites in general live longer than middle-class blacks.
- If you go to public school, the government will spend more on your education.
- You are more likely to be given the benefit of the doubt by strangers, especially if you are well-dressed.
- You do not have to think about the colour of your skin.
- You can live in any nice part of town you can afford.
- If you are a woman, society’s idea of beauty looks like you in terms of race.
- White History Month is the longest month – it never seems to end.
- Not just history but the news is told from the white point of view and reports on things that interest white readers. Like missing white women.
Those are just some examples and maybe not even the best ones at that
Whites think they got to where they are from their own hard work and merit. Hard work and merit do matter, but it is not the whole story. It was easier for them to get to where they are now because it was easier to get a good education and easier even to just get work.
American society has been built by and for white people. It favours them at every turn without even trying. Not because of some evil plot but just because of who builds and runs it.
A good example of this: a white editor at a newspaper will think a shooting in a white part of town is more important than one in a black part of town. It just will seem that way to him. But then the black part of town gets underreported.
And so on.