Wake Up People: White Privilege is Real

A white man acknowledges his privilege.

Earlier this week at my job, I was berated by a man my own age because I placed a winter coat in his section, which I quickly found out was the wrong section. He snapped at me in front of several of my other coworkers.

The interaction was rude and embarrassing, and this was the first time I had ever met him. I was shocked by his behavior. It made me wonder, would he have treated me this way if I was a man? Or would he have just respectfully told me the correct place to put the coat?

I became angry. Who did he think he was? What gave him the right to talk to me like that?

I’ve had many occasions as a woman being called sweetie, sweetheart or dear by men that were strangers and I usually don’t think much of it. However, when someone treats me poorly because they think they are above me, is rare.

Hi, my name is Charli, and I am privileged. I am white and was raised in the Midwest. I have been born with access to many things others were not.

Some individuals cringe at the thought of admitting their white privilege. They think it’s a myth or people are pulling the race card. They refuse to accept it.

The experience I had this week gave me a wake-up call. I’ve known for a long time I am privileged, but sometimes getting a taste of what it was like on the other side can be the best thing for someone who is oblivious.

The anger I felt for my coworker flipped a switch in my head and quickly left my body. Why? Because I realized my white privilege has sheltered me from feeling this type of anger. As a white person, you don’t have these type of experiences in your daily life. So why would you ever believe it’s real?

Let me remind you my experience was mild compared to what other people experience daily.

Imagine having a customer call you a “spick” or a “prairie n—er” as you ring up their items. Imagine being told to go back home where you came from. Imagine having to hold back your tongue so people don’t accuse you of pulling the race card.

Imagine having to smile and tell this customer thank you, as you hold in your anger. My friend didn’t have to imagine these things because it happened to her.

Yes, this happens in Fargo, and it happens everywhere. The only reason you don’t see it is because you never have to experience it.

If you don’t believe me, ask your diverse friends. Let them tell you their experiences. I guarantee every one of them has a story to tell.

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