I think it was the post that set me off. Yes, I had heard the term ‘White Privilege’ for quite some time. It had been bantered about on the News, Talk Radio, Social Media and from a few friends mouths. I read this story where two men who check different boxes on official forms have a discussion and the guy who checks ‘White/ Non-Hispanic’ makes his point and… golly gee, all is well. White Privilege is vanquished.
I have to admit I bought into that. I check the same box, ‘White/Non-Hispanic’ and well yeah, I don’t feel privileged. It was rather simple for me to believe this. I am not privileged.
See, like many people who check the same box as I do on official forms, I live a pretty basic life. I work hard, pay bills, struggle with bills, have the same issues as any average American. How was my being white giving me privilege? I certainly didn’t feel privileged.
It angered me because those I heard from, read about, posted stories and comment on the subject of white privilege, kept talking about how I was racist because of the color of my skin.
And that was the element to the narrative the irritated me. That White Privilege equaled racism.
It was when I read a post from a friend who invoked those very sentiments that I wanted to know more about White Privilege. Why had so many equate it with racism? How was the color of ones skin a determination factor on who they were as an individual?
For those who check another box, other than I do…sound familiar?
Then I made a startling discovery. White Privilege, as many use the term, is a misnomer. It doesn’t refer to racism, it refers to Left-handedness.
Are you Right-handed or Left-handed? Most likely you are right-handed, most of humanity is. But not all. I was born left-handed, but switched over to use my right hand. Fairly common back in the 60’s. My eldest daughter is left-handed, and one day she found something that upset her. A little jocular note my wife (Who is also left-handed) had on our fridge. It simply stated this:
“Left-handed people are more likely to die in accidents than right-handed people.”
She asked me if that was true. I told her I doubted that, and for the record, it is not true. But, I did say there was some kernel of truth to the matter. She of course, asked how? And I explained.
They world is built for Right-handed people. Everything you use, pick up, open, close, write on, is built for those who use their right hand. I told her she would always have that obstacle to deal with. She will need to either deal with easy to get right-handed scissors, or buy a pair of left-handed scissors at some out-of-the-way store. Little things for sure, but annoying things.
My daughter, a left-hander, lived in a right-hand world. And there was nothing she could do about it.
Consider the common phrases you hear everyday. Right hand man, raise your right hand, right hand of God. Then there are more simple things. Ever open a door by grabbing the knob on the left? No? When you shake someones hand which hand do you use? And that is exactly what White Privilege is.
Now was this done by design? Yes.
It was done because those who created the system, well, they were all ‘Right-Handers’. Despite the common narrative to keep others down, no, not really. They were simply never factored into the equation. Those ‘Left-Handers’ just didn’t matter enough to even bother about. So all those ‘right-handers’ who check that box, well, the world is built for them.
It may seem minor to some. It may seem that we have reached equality. We think so, we believe this to be true. Yet try living in a left-hand world when you use your right-hand. Wouldn’t be so easy would it? Little reminders everyday that you are different. That the world is not made for you, but revolves around those ‘right-handers’.
I do not have a solution. I’ll leave that to smarter minds. Yet I hope this little comparison takes the debate away from strictly racial ideologies. White Privilege is not about racism. It’s about being left-handed in a right-handed world…and having to use those damn scissors for a living, without the option to buy a pair that fit your hand.