I have been doing a lot of thinking about privilege over the past few weeks. I’m developing a workshop for the understanding privilege and it also seems to be a topic of conversation that is coming up more often in pop culture. This question is actually something I’ve been wondering for many years, but never really flushed it out. As transracial adoptees, while yes we are people of color and do not have racial privilege, but sometimes I do wonder if we benefit in some areas due to our proximity to whiteness.
Listen, I’m a dark skin, chubby, black woman, raised in the whitest of white cities Olympia/Rochester Washington. I have dealt with every racist scenario you could possibly think of...and from a young age too. From having old white ladies call me “one of those”, the n-word, tar baby, having police harass me at my own house because there no possible way I could live with this white family, walking into any establishment and the person addresses whichever white family member is with me, and not me etc. Y’all know the drill, but I do feel that I had access to things that other people of color in my neighborhood did not because my parents and the vast majority of my family is white.
I didn’t ever think anything of it at first because as I’ve mentioned in past posts, I didn’t meet any nonwhite people outside of my family until about 7th-8th grade, so I had no idea what the typical “black” experience was. I thought my experience was the common black experience (aside from having white parents, obviously). I was homeschooled, then went to private school, we certainly had access to social circles we probably otherwise wouldn’t have had, we avoided a lot of treatment because most people knew our families and wouldn’t dare come for one of the Hutson kids and other little things like that.
I was watching a spoken word video from another TRA, diabolically Haitian,
they also mentioned benefiting from their parent's whiteness and it made me wonder if we may have avoided some experiences due to our link with whiteness. I certainly was made fun of for being or acting “white”, for not knowing the black culture, when I was introduced to other black people. I do think I was shielded from a lot of black experiences and realities due to the whiteness of our families and that we certainly were granted passes that I probably would not have received had my parents not been white. I don’t think I would have ended up in private school, or even homeschooled, (being able to homeschool, is a privilege IMO). I don’t think I would have been able to go to summer camps, sporting camps, I mean I went to the Junior Olympics in 7th grade. Don’t get me wrong, I was also just THAT good at Shot Put (went on to win state. #HumbleBrag), but the fact that I had time and flew on our own dime to Indiana to compete seems like a privilege.
On the other hand, we still dealt with the racism once we got through those doors. I thought, well maybe it had more to do with class than the racial privilege, but looking back, my family was poor as shit. At the time it felt normal, but last year my cousin and I were laughing, but also kind of seriously reflecting, on how poor we actually were and we just thought it was normal as kids.
There’s a reason we worked from 5 am till it was dark out every day. In fact, the only reason we were allowed to go to private school and week-long summer camps, was because my family worked to lower tuitions costs as many low-income families in the area did. It wasn’t like we were out here at some prestigious private school either. No, we were at the K-12 private school with 100 students renting out whatever church had the classroom space, and 4 people in my graduating class. So I don’t think it was class privilege, maybe it’s a bit of both mixed together? Maybe it was just the fact that everyone in Western Washington knows our family because we’ve been there for an eternity and we stood out like a sore thumb as a family of pale white people with three black kids.
Honestly, I don’t really know the answer to this question, but it is an interesting question to think about. While we don’t directly benefit from white privilege, does our proximity to whiteness grant us a small pass on some things? Is it like...a contact high, but for white privilege?
What Y'all think?
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