The moment I realized I had white privilege didn’t come until I started driving a BMW.
Let me first explain, I grew up poor. My friends were poor. We lived in poor neighborhoods and eventually moved up to a modest one.
Due to systemic racism, many people of color are poor. So growing up, I had friends of color. To me it didn’t mean anything. I was a child. They were children. We all wanted the same things but couldn’t afford it. We all played in the same parks. We all related to each other because we were poor.
That’s what bound us together.
So I didn’t grow up racist. People were people and they all had struggles. That’s what I saw.
As I got older I started to realize. We’d get in trouble and I was told to go on my way. I didn’t grow up thinking people of color were any different. I didn’t understand.
Then one day I was driving my BMW like greased lightning down the highway when after passing a beater of a car, I saw the cop on the side of the road radaring everyone.
Now I’m thinking, “Great. This is the last thing I need” as I see him hit the lights and come towards me in pursuit.
But he doesn’t pull me over.
He pulls over the beat up car with two Latinos inside.
You know, the car I went flying past?
That’s when it really hit me. I was doing 10 more than him easy but because of their race and the car they were driving, they were profiled.
That was the moment I first felt sick to my stomach because I was white. But not so much that as the fact that because of something completely outside of someone’s control, they were being oppressed and I was allowed to go.
I have a deep seeded sense of right and wrong. Of Justice.
I still think to myself, “You should have pulled over. You should have said something. But you didn’t.”
It’s going to take all white people to put back what we did wrong and the first step is just to admit it.
– Charlize <3
Cover image credit: Unknown