Letter to the Editor: “Black at BSM” article enlightening and essential

I appreciate the thought and effort that was behind the articles on being black at BSM. Your articles have made many uncomfortable and I am glad they have generated discussion in both the student body and faculty/staff.

All of us at BSM can benefit from recognizing that White Privilege is real and exists. As a member of the dominant group and a white person, I realize I have been taught about racism as something that puts others at a disadvantage; but had not been taught to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage. “White privilege is an invisible gift of unearned assets which I can use each day, but about which I was ‘meant’ to remain oblivious,” (McIntosh, 1989) My racial group is being made confident, comfortable, and oblivious, while other groups were likely being made unconfident, uncomfortable, and alienated. Whiteness has protected me from many kinds of hostility, distress, and violence and puts me in an enviable position.

Many, perhaps most, of white people in the United States think that racism doesn’t affect them because they are not people of color; we have black friends, we have a black president … there is not racism here. Wrong. It is here. White privilege is everywhere. It is too comfortable, and we continue to take advantage of the status quo. Disapproving of the system isn’t enough to change it. We need to recognize that racism is not only individual acts of meanness by members of my group, but it is also in invisible systems conferring unsought racial dominance on my group from birth, and we all need to work to change that. As Red Knights, let’s strive to make others more aware of this very real problem that matters.

Jean Nightingale