The Weight of White Privilege
Asheville-based consultant Desiree Adaway recently posted this quote on twitter and Facebook, “White privilege is like an invisible knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, tools,and blank checks.” – Peggy Mcintosh. She was quoting Mcintosh’s seminal article, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” which I encourage you to read if you haven’t yet. Being reminded of the “invisible knapsack” led me to ponder this metaphor again. Specifically, I thought about how the knapsack of privilege is invisible to white people until we are able to feel it’s weight. For it is a weight. When we realize we are carrying around unearned privileges, the heaviness of it is undeniable. That said, if we reach into that knapsack and pull out our special provisions to use them to promote equity, we can lighten our load. To me, this is a piece of collective liberation. We work for equity and justice because it is the right thing to do. It also happens to be freeing.
Last Monday Michael Johnson, Jr., who is African American, was brutally attacked by three (with all signs point to them being white) men while jogging in Leicester early in the morning, left with a cord like a makeshift noose tied tightly around my neck. So horrifying. To add insult to injury, my friend Tamiko Ambrose raised the fact on Facebook that race was not mentioned in the Citizen-Times coverage of the incident, criticizing the incomplete narrative. One of her comments in the online discussion about this was “hoping others also recognize the urgency of this moment to name race and racism and the culture of violence that has been unleashed. This is our lives!” Action steps suggested are writing letters to the editor, and asking the Sheriff’s Department to investigate the incident as a hate crime: click here for the Sheriff’s contact information. In response to Tamiko’s posts, Janet Kent wrote a powerful letter to the editor that the paper refused to print – click here to read it. You can click here to watch a WLOS interview with Mr. Johnson, Jr. Tamiko’s remark about this video was “Time for truth telling.” Indeed.
As we navigate the frightening tenor of our times, we must continue to nurture a safe and loving community where there is no room for hate. How? There are many kind souls pursuing the answer to that question. We listen and follow them.
Note: Another important local news story that I want to mention, though I do not have the bandwidth to write about today, is the recent decision by DA Todd Williams not to indict Sgt. Tyler Radford in the shooting death of Jerry Williams. There is much to discuss.
My ongoing commitment is to illuminate uplifting work in our community (and beyond). Below are photos from four recent gatherings – hosted by CoThinkk, Word on the Street, Center for Participatory Change, and Nuestro Centro. Click on the names of these organizations to find out how to support their wonderfulness.
More soon. Peace to you.