Thursday’s ridiculously lenient sentencing in the Stanford swimmer rape case proves that white privilege isn’t a figment of the human imagination. Nor is it a new phenomenon.
So what happens when a Black member of the United Church of Christ urges white members to check their privilege at the door? Things get pretty ugly.
White people are up in arms after an image listing “10 Ways You Can Actively Reject Your White Privilege” was posted to the the church’s Facebook page. The photo was an abbreviated version of a blog post titled, “So You Say You’ve Got White Privilege. Now What,” published by the church’s social media associate, Marchaé Grair.
“Talking about privilege while not doing anything to dismantle white supremacy is like seeing a fire and never calling 911. It just doesn’t do much,” Grair’s post reads. “Many white allies focus on calling out overt racism while not focusing on the more subtle ways they may perpetuate the racism they condemn.”
According to Fusion, Grair’s blog post also offers suggestions and insight into how white people can actively fight racism, rather than be a passive participant in it. But it was her last tip that really got people hopping mad.
“Recognize that you’re still racist. No matter what,” it reads.
But Grair goes on to explain what she really means in the original blog post, elaborating on the fact that “white people always benefit from institutionalized racism, no matter how anti-racist your ideologies may be.”
She isn’t the only one harboring the “radical” idea that whites need to acknowledge their privilege, however. During an address at the National Action Network Convention, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton echoed similar suggestions mentioned in Grair’s blog post.
“White Americans need to do a much better job of listening when African-Americans talk about the seen and unseen barriers you face every day,” Clinton said. “We need to recognize our privilege and practice humility, rather than assume our experiences are everyone else’s experiences.”
Per Fusion, the controversial Facebook image has been shared nearly 10,000 times, drawing comments from mostly white people who vehemently deny that white privilege even exists. Some users accused the church’s social media associate of being a racist herself.
— Nerdy and Wordy (@MarchaeGrair) June 5, 2016
— Nerdy and Wordy (@MarchaeGrair) June 3, 2016
Grair told Fusion via e-mail that it was her goal to make people “uncomfortable about their privilege,” so she isn’t surprised by the angry responses she has received.
“If people feel victimized by a critique of their racism, imagine how victimized I feel by actually experiencing that racism,” she wrote.
While Grair doesn’t plan to follow up her list of controversial suggestions with another post, she says she’ll continue to use the blog to push her campaign for social justice.
“In the age of the Internet, trolls and Internet bullies want advocates to be silent because having a voice translates into claiming power,” she told Fusion. “Refusing to be silent after writing this blog — even in the face of people trolling me and calling me racial slurs — is my message to people that the message of racial justice is more powerful than bullies who attempt to silence it.”