Understanding ‘White Privilege’ – The Jesuit Institute South Africa

Some issues are difficult to address; ‘white privilege’ is one of them. Some of the immediate responses you get when you use this phrase are: “I worked hard for all I have!” or “I never agreed with apartheid and never voted for the National Party” or “I am not a racist and believe in equality.” These may all be true. However, this does not mean that you have not benefited from white privilege. Before getting defensive or heated about the term we need to step back and attempt to understand what this means and the subtle dynamic it reveals.

White privilege is, as Fr Bryan Massingale suggests in his book Racial Justice and the Catholic Church, the “flipside and inescapable corollary of racial injustice. Racial injustice comes about to preserve and protect white privilege”. These advantages range from greater ease of moving into whatever neighbourhood you like, easier access to positions of social influence and economic power as well as greater access to quality education. White privilege is the result of social policies, institutions and procedures that have deliberately created a system to advance the well-being of white people and impeded the opportunities for people of colour.

Read more- The Jesuit Institute South Africa

Leave a Reply