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Yes, White Privilege Exists

When you think of the term “underprivileged,” perhaps the first image that comes to mind is an underdeveloped country thousands of miles from the U.S. Or, perhaps the image contains a community of homeless Americans holding cardboard signs on street corners.

Either way, there is a broad consensus affirming underprivileged groups exist in our world. If this is in fact true, then the underprivileged certainly cannot exist unless a privileged group also exists. So, if the majority of us agree there are underprivileged, then who are the privileged?

It is clear the Western world is on the side of privilege, but when one looks deeper, the notion of privilege is even narrower. There is one ethnic group who stands out among the rest.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, white privilege is defined as “the fact of people with white skin having advantages in society that other people do not have.”

The idea of white privilege has permeated our nation in recent years, despite historical advances toward racial equality. Yet, the majority of white Americans say, “Surely the privileged cannot be me? What about the millionaires and people who are rich and famous for accomplishing virtually nothing? I have had to work hard for what I have.”

Not every white individual has it easy. By and large, many white Americans must work hard to achieve certain successes, and poverty––which does not discriminate based on race––plays a major role as well.

White Americans tend to claim white privilege is a thing of the past, which disappeared entirely after the Civil Rights Movement. I find it interesting how it is white people alone who deny the existence of such privilege.

However, the facts remain. There are still scenarios in our world in which white pigmentation creates an undeniable step above another race.

Statistics reveal, as a white person, I am less likely to be arrested or go to prison if I am arrested. On the other end, as a white person, I am more likely to go to college, receive a job offer and find adequate housing.

To make matters worse, many Christians—including Bryan Liftin, a professor of theology at Moody Bible Institute—believe this idea should be etched out entirely from Christian discourse. In 2015, Liftin wrote a letter to the editor of the “Moody Standard” proposing five reasons why the term “white privilege” is not appropriate for Christian discussion.

Keep in mind this university has recently been under the public eye for accounts of racial prejudice. Liftin has been outspoken about diversity initiatives on campus and even shamed those who participated in counter-protests to the white supremacists at the riots in Charlottesville.

Liftin is white.

There are two primary points to be made concerning this discussion. The first is this: if you look at your skin and find it is white, it is not your place to decide if white privilege or discrimination exists. It is crucial for white Americans to understand, while they may have faced obstacles in their lives, they largely have no concept of what it is like to be a minority.

Secondly, if you are a Christian, you cannot allow yourself to believe igniting discussion about important issues is “not appropriate for Christian discourse.” If you allow yourself to begin thinking this way, you are ignoring the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Jesus spoke up for the poor, healed the marginalized, befriended the outcasts, valued those considered lesser and went head-to-head with religious leaders. He overturned tables in the temple with righteous anger.

Where is our righteous anger at the injustice prevalent around us?

Jesus also was not white, yet over the years we have carefully crafted him into the image of a white man. But sure, white privilege just “does not exist.”

If you deny the existence of white privilege, I plead you to remove the blinders from your eyes. Not talking about something does not mean it does not exist or will simply go away.

Silence leads to ignorance, and ignorance will lead us nowhere.

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