White Privilege

I don’t like the term “white privilege”, although I agree with what it tries to describe –that most white people have a systemic advantage over black people.  The term “white privilege” is poorly chosen and makes me defensive, and more importantly it makes other white people who may not have stopped to reflect on the imbalances in our nation, defensive.  I know, poor us, but come up with a better term.  I also don’t like the term “defund the police.”  Seriously.  I agree radical changes are needed immediately in our police system.  But the “defund the police” movement doesn’t call for abolishing the police, which is what “defund the police” sounds like, and many people won’t even lend an ear when such a term is brought up.

I am really happy with how this country as a whole is responding to the George Floyd’s death and the accumulation of crimes against minorities that have gone on for too long. I believe change is happening.  I mean today, NASCAR banned the Confederate flag at races!  Who could have seen that coming?

I fully stand with BLACK LIVES MATTER!  I will never respond “all lives matter” because I understand that our society has often devalued black lives and that needs to change.

I have spent a great deal of time lately thinking about my life and the advantages I have had.  I have thought about how I have changed over the years and have been trying to write about it.  I know this blog is supposed to be about being a paramedic and in this blog I have tried to “stay in my lane,” but these are extraordinary times, and even though I have a small platform, I want to use it (at times) to talk about race in America.  I will do at times from what I have seen as a paramedic and as a private citizen.

I am working on some essays about different periods in my life and how I went from growing up in an all-white suburb who, as a ten year old, volunteered for Richard Nixon’s campaign and who, as a thirteen year old, rooted for Joe Frazier to beat that loud mouth Cassius Clay to a 61- year old man who has had an Obama cut out in his kitchen since 2008, has a beautiful black wife and three beautiful black children, who teaches them to idolize Muhammad Ali and who still admits I have farther to travel along freedom road to help make the world better for them and all kids.  I may end up not posting these essays (they are not close to being done), but I am working on them, and they have been teaching me surprising lessons and insights as I revisit the past.

Today, I read an article called: 6 Things White People Say That Highlight Their Privilege

I thought I would briefly respond to each of them.

  1. “It’s not my job to fix racism because I’m not racist.”

I disagree.  It is all our jobs.  Even if at times, I may find myself guilty of unintended racism, it is still my job to try to fix it.

  1. “I don’t see color.”

I don’t see color when I look at my kids or when I look at my friends, but I see color all the time when I look at others.  I may wish it were not true, but it is how I have been conditioned.

  1. “There’s no need to worry about the police if you’re not doing anything illegal.”

I disagree with this also.  One of my essays is about the times I have been either pulled over or questioned by police (pretty much all in my younger years).  Let’s say this.  If I was black, I would have been in much bigger trouble than I was.  Still despite being white, police make me nervous.  I think most of them are great, but they pull you over, they hold power over you, and it is a nerve-wracking experience, but clearly much less so for me, than for a black person.  I have never had to worry about being shot,  Not close.

  1. “I don’t want to post about racism on social media because I’m scared of the backlash.”

True.  I am very nervous about writing about race.  I am worried if I write my truths, I will draw the ire of white and black alike.  Still, I am willing to engage regardless.

  1. “I don’t have white privilege.”

Like I said, I don’t like the word, but I clearly have had major advantages in my life as a middle class white person.

  1. “I’m not sure when I should start talking to my kids about racism.”

I have been talking about race with my kids, another subject of an essay.  I learn more from them than they learn from me.

Thanks for putting up with this.  As readers of this blog know I have tended over the years to get fixated on topics – capnography, pain management, STEMIS, the opioid epidemic, COVID and now racism in America.  The last three I will continue posting about and try to get in some regular paramedic topics as well.

Peace to all,