Opinion » Minerva's Breakdown

Privilege with Principles

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Dear Minerva,

I sometimes find myself in a situation where someone I'm speaking with makes a really inappropriate comment about a certain group of people or they make a really racist comment. I believe these asides are dangerous and do everything I can to start a dialogue with the person about what they're actually saying—but I'm a white, cisgender, middle-class lady. I feel like my very appearance negates all of my arguments. Any thoughts on being white, somewhat privileged and yet fighting the good fight?

Thanks,

—White and Aware

Dear White and Aware,

Honey, you are not alone. I applaud you for fighting the good fight against bigotry. Despite the great strides we have made in this country, there is still much work to be done. The fact that you are white, cisgender and privileged is exactly why it is so important for you to speak up. If the person you are talking to has already closed their mind to a group of people, chances are they aren't interested in what that group has to say about the matter. This is where you get to be a valuable ally. If they see and hear someone who is like them disapproving of their behavior, they are more likely to analyze what they have been doing and possibly change. I know it's hard to have these kinds of conversations, but in order for progress to happen, we need all hands on deck! Your privilege can become a powerful tool for change.

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