The One Term Many White People Don’t Understand

The One Term Many White People Don’t Understand

White privilege is real — whether or not you choose to see it.

But “privilege” can also be a hard word to own, especially if you are a working class white person, an LGBTQ white person, or another white American who has had to endure personal hardship or discrimination. In fact, the idea of privilege can make some people lose all empathy and become downright hostile, leading them to suggest that white privilege is overblown, a myth, or even that individuals who bring up white privilege are the real racists.

Why is owning white privilege so difficult?

Experiencing inequality based on gender, sexual orientation, income, or for other reasons doesn’t make white privilege any less true; it just makes it an even harder pill to swallow. And, according to researchers, it’s already very challenging for many white people to acknowledge the systemic privileges that come with their skin color.

White people tended to accept that “group-level inequity” existed, according to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. But when it came to “evidence that their group benefits from privilege,” they changed their tune. Not only did study participants fail to take responsibility for any advantage they may have received due to their race, they also found the claims “threatening” and often used “hardships to manage this threat,” protecting their conception of their accomplishments and their personal merit by making excuses for why they had not personally benefited from their whiteness.