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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Dominant culture and White privilege

By Michelle Rogan                                                                            

 Special to CSMS MagazineThis issue raises my awareness immensely about what it means to be White.  I believe that students need to explore what it means to be White because it would raise their awareness about the differences around them. I am a white woman who was raised to embrace all races. However, I grew up around people who seriously believed that their skin color, somehow made them superior them others. Teaching students about differences could make students recognize white privilege as it pertains to their life, and possibly how they could overcome this unspoken oppression.     As white people, most of us are taught that racism is something that puts others at a disadvantage.  We were not taught (at least in my case), however, that there is someone on the other end of the disadvantage while someone is getting the advantage; and that advantage is called White Privilege.     This is relevant to many issues our young American students face, and it definitely impacts the dreams of many of our young American students.   I cannot speak for other ethnic groups, but I can’t help but wonder what makes them feel that they have the right to the American dream while others do not. That is so upsetting to even think about it. However, I wonder if these young students that feel disadvantaged even think they have the same American dream that someone with White Privilege would.     I would like to believe that everyone should have the same opportunities available to them. I do not think this should be made as a fact. Even if it were factual, I think that minority people should be raised with the same understanding that they can pursue their dreams whatever it may be.     The fact that I could worry about racism without being seen as a self-interested or self-seeking person was something that I took for granted. I thought that everyone had this luxury, but I was wrong.  I also took for granted that I could get a job with an “affirmative action” employer without having my co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race.    Students need to explore what it means to be White and what white privileges are, along with racism, the disadvantaged and advantaged.  If we could teach children the right way, maybe we can begin to change the way things are.    My life experiences are completely consistent with what Peggy McIntosh is saying in “While Privilege.”  I was raised the same way. Unconsciously not knowing that I am at an advantage, and racism is so much more than someone or something that puts another person at a disadvantage.   I was raised to think that anyone could accomplish anything if he/she sets his mind in to it.  But can they?  If there are these unwritten, unspoken rules, or mores, then that is not true at all. What is an altruism is the fact that certain doors are open to certain people and not to certain others.      It is hard to imagine that in the 21st century, people are being promoted not based on their achievements, but on their skin color.  I never realized that if I chew with my mouth open, someone might refer to me as having poor manners; they wouldn’t refer to the color of my skin.  I used to think that we as a society could end racism if attitudes were changed. But after reading this article, I realize that it would take much more than that. NoteMichelle Rogan is a NSU student who majors in education.

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