White Privilege in Racial Justice Work

Let me start by emphatically saying: THESE ARE NOT MY WORDS. I did not write the following, but I completely own it. Paul Gorski posted a piece from his preface to his book, Everyday White People Confront Racial and Social Injustice. He explains how White privilege works for him (me) in his (my) anti-oppression and racial justice work.
Paul writes:
  1. I am often offered money, praise, and other rewards for going into communities and organizations and saying things that people of color in those communities have been saying, sometimes for generations, and often at their personal, physical, and professional peril.
  2. I was able to build a career out of doing social justice work without being seen as self-absorbed and self-serving. Rather, I’m often seen as brave for doing work for which many people of color are criticized, demeaned, targeted with violence, fired, and de-professionalized.
  3. It’s one thing to do racial justice work, and it’s something else altogether to be doing racial justice work while experiencing the weight of racism. One major difference is that I can, if I choose, retreat from racial justice work when it feels hard or inconvenient, while people of color cannot retreat from racism.
  4. I am often credited for ideas, concepts, and frameworks related to social justice that are not original to me even when I say they are not original to me.
  5. I can be seen by many people as a change agent or activist simply by writing essays or books about racism, by teaching courses about racism at a university, by speaking at plush diversity conferences, or by doing cultural competence or diversity consulting, regardless of whether I do any racial justice work for which I am not financially compensated and regardless of how I spend the rest of my time.
  6. I have the option of softening my racial justice message for particular types of audiences if doing so will help me sell more books or have a higher likelihood of being hired as a facilitator or consultant, and I can do so without making my parents or sister or niece and nephew, who are white, vulnerable to racism.
Thank you, Paul, for posting this and making these truths transparent.
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