White Privilege Engages Racism

by | Sep 19, 2019 | Formation, Reflections | 3 comments

The pervasive presence and practice of racism in our society agitates my Vincentian heart. Cross Roads Anti-Racism Organizing defines racism as personal racial prejudice plus misuse of power by systems and institutions. http://crossroadsantiracism.org

I offer these learnings from my journey of resisting racism:

  • The 40 Days of Prayer documented the date that the first enslaved Africans stepped off a slave ship in Jamestown, VA. Slavery was institutionalized in colonized America on August 20, 1619 – 400 years ago.
  • The 1619 Project of the NY Times makes this fundamental declaration: “Our founding ideals of liberty and equality were false when they were written. Black Americans fought to make them true. Without this struggle, America would have no democracy at all.” https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/1619-america-slavery.html
  • In The Color Purple, Celie wrote letters to God that articulate the strength and resilience of African American women in response to suppression and violence. Ms. Lynn Squires of the St. Charles Lwanga Center in St. Louis, MO describes her people as “chosen, royal, holy and called out of darkness,” but maintains that “St. Louis is stuck in a slave mentality with socio-economic structures that divide and gun violence in the streets.”
  • “White” became a legal term in the late 16thcentury when indentured Europeans and enslaved Africans united in resistance to the ruling class, according to Jacqueline Battalora in Birth of a White Nation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riVAuC0dnP4
  • Peggy McIntosh describes white privilege as “an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day but about which I was meant to remain oblivious.” (“White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” www.nationalseedproject.org)
  • The Diversity Awareness Partnership offers four steps for white allies to better understand race and racism:
    • Have conversations about whiteness in white spaces.
    • Ask people of other races to hold you accountable for your words, behavior and education.
    • Not only be okay with making mistakes but actively create spaces for dialogue wherein mistakes are valued as steps toward learning.
    • Listen to experiences outside of your racial identity and believe them. https://dapinclusive.org


  1. Kathy Byrnes

    Thank you Julie for this remembrance of this significant day in American history which hopefully gives me/us pause to open our hearts to the America that should have been in 1776 – a democracy for all human beings on U.S. soil. May we all grow from these learnings and open our hearts to true equality and love for all. It is never too late if we still have breath on this earth.

  2. Ross

    Sister Julie,

    Thank you for the information and the challenges it poses. The “privilege” in your title sent me back to this youtube on life of privilege explained that you probably have already seen.

  3. Louis Arceneaux, c.m.

    Thanks, Julie, for your remarks. The sad reality is that white people do not realize we are privileged. Peace!

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