Why we need a national White Privilege Day
LIFE AS I KNOW IT
THAT time of the year is coming around again and the conversations about Australia Day will continue to highlight the lack of regard we have for our indigenous population and their voices.
This is of course not helped by a government that lacks strong leadership on this issue.
That subject has been a topic in this column for the past few years and as momentum and opinions about changing the date to a less colonial, less hurtful one grows louder with every passing year, it is reaching saturation level when it comes to explaining the same thing over and over every January. (Besides a white person's take the problems faced by black people with the intention of enlightening other white people is becoming stale and pale - lucky I'm not male).
So let's try another tack. Rather than continue to spell out why historical context is important in understanding First Nation people injustices and why this will be an ongoing problem until we do, let's just drown it out by upping the celebration ante that so many Australians love and refuse to budge on.
One way to do this is to add another facet to the annual patriotic parade, a separate event to highlight a much-forgotten element considering the magnitude of benefits it offers a typical Australian from to day to day.
Holding a National White Privilege Day is a great way to explore the bedrock in which this colonised country was built on. It's been an outstanding success with an almost all-white (and male) parliament since Federation, and the results speak for themselves.
Aussie flag waving white people have benefited enormously from this set up to this day, and so celebrating this on an even grander scale every Australia Day just makes good sense.
Of course, there may be some confusion about what exactly White Privilege Day will champion because its effects are so numerous and broad-reaching, so let's just break it down into easy to digest morsels to help alleviate the confusion about exactly what white privilege is.
Let's start with a biggie.
The freedom to walk around in public going about your business without being stared at and silently judged.
Yes this amazing privilege is exclusive to white people and it's so beneficial to daily existence you don't even notice it's happening. It feels normal rather than a privilege so it's easy to forget it is.
You get to drive an expensive car without the police pulling you over to ask dumb questions like is this your car. Oh yeah, that doesn't happen that much here in Australia because indigenous people here haven't had a civil rights moment and not broadly empowered enough to create a large high earning population within their community. In America they are, but still they don't have that white privilege so black lawyers or bankers have to put a cuddly toy in the back of their Lexus window to make sure the police think they are hard working family men and not thieves.
Another great privilege is the the ability to not be crucified as an entire race every time one of your own does something bad. Holy hell imagine if they did, because there are a lot of bad white motherf**kers out there (MF being a term normally associated with black people but hell, we're privileged enough it's not going to stick).
We get jobs, any jobs we want if we study hard and have a white face, er, I mean merit. Even if we are educated in the exact same institutions as non-white people and achieve the same results, there are no questions about how we got those credentials or whether we earned them fairly (white women may have some exposure to this concept too).
And when white people get the job they aren't immediately undervalued through snide remarks or assumptions like 'Oh, they only got that job because of their skin colour'. It's not presumed white people use a race card (even if we do in some ironic sense). We don't need one because we are already ahead thanks to that glistening white privilege.
What about owning your own home? White people are never queried about how this is possible. Okay, again the empowering black people thing in this country is lagging behind so a lot of indigenous people here are still existing in government supported ghettos, but still not every home-owner in this country is white. Those who aren't, often have to let people know they didn't get a free one or an interest free loan because, you know, white privilege makes you exempt to this kind of inquiry.
What about that time you went to the bottle shop to buy carton of beer before a footy grand final and walked in and no one watched you like a hawk or served you in silence despite the jovial occasion that day. Three cheers for white privilege.
Or you wear nice clothing or jewellery and there's no suspicion about where it came from. Or how you can get drunk in public and behave like an animal and it's funny not tragic because your whole race isn't held to the same moral standards.
White privilege means you are immune to race-based slurs because they have no impact to the historically superior race that has always been in charge. We saw how important it is to maintain this at St Kilda on the weekend.
White privilege also means you see yourself represented everywhere. In industry and corporations, in advertising, on the street, in pubs, and on TV (unless you only watch SBS or the ABC). Your people and your cultural practices are absolutely EVERYWHERE. Being surrounded by familiar examples of people who look like you, talk like you, think like you, makes you feel safe and welcome and included.
If you have ever found yourself in a situation of having a person share their experiences with actual racist behaviour and you are immediately shocked at the level of abuse they endure going about their lives, this kind of disbelief, is true white privilege.
So let's raise our Australian flags and salute this illuminating veneer that automatically opens doors and makes you feel welcome in your own country as you navigate life's ups and downs. Our lives would be a hell of a lot worse without it.
Happy National White Privilege Day.