Hulton Archive/Getty Images/Fox Photos Hulton Archive/Getty Images/Fox Photos
By Enrique Grijalva

White privilege is an idea and a term that has amassed newfound esteem among well-known online publications, social media circles, and even political news programs. It has been a point of discussion inside the walls of Black America for decades, centuries perhaps. Frustration grows in the minds of Latino men and women, whose skin may seem white but, due to the dominant ancestry in their blood, lack this birthright. I’d even argue, from my observation, that it’s even been a point of envy for the Asian and Arab communities in America.

Truth be told, we are all envious of the privileges white people have to some degree. We may not want to admit it, but you’d be lying if you’ve said otherwise. I’d also call you out as a liar if you haven’t thought about what it would be like to be white or, at least, what it would be like to have white privilege.

I ask myself this question, occasionally; examining the areas of my life that would be affected. I know my behavior, my thoughts, my outlook — everything would dramatically change.


Education and Behavior

I’ve documented my hellacious experience with New York City’s public school system before. I don’t think I need to get too deep into it again. All you have to know is that I scored a 740 on my SAT exam. Enough said.

I’m a listener. I love to hear people talk, especially white people. Why? I believe that most white people display flawless elocution in a conversation. Some are so good, it’s scary. The ability to articulate thoughts and ideas or express emotion is vital in communication, which I believe ultimately affects behavior. I feel that it’s crucial in resolving arguments in a peaceful manner, as opposed to a violent confrontation.

If I were white I wouldn’t succumb to frustration like an angry child who doesn’t know how to communicate their thoughts and feelings. I’d be tactful and graceful due to my education, which would have endowed me with an enormous vocabulary.

Interaction with the Police

“Someday I’m going to be walking down the streets minding my own business… and BAM! I’m going to be shot by some pig who’s going to swear it was a mistake. I accept that as a part of my destiny,” said Paco, a character from the 1977 film adaptation of Miguel Piñero’s play Short Eyes.

Through the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown we were reminded that this can still be our fate. That piece of dialogue was meant to portray a Latino’s bleak perspective on his relationship with the police in the 1970s. The brutal realism of those words continues to fearlessly echo inside the terrorized men, women, and children who are still harassed and afraid of the police today.

Could I die at the hands of the police? Statistically, the numbers say yes.  According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 2,151 whites were shot by police compared to 1,130 blacks from 1999 to 2011. The numbers appear to contradict my point, until you look closer. In America, whites make up 63 percent of the population and blacks make up 12 percent, which means, based on percentages, I’d be safer around cops if I were white.

Would I Feel Guilty About My White Privilege?

Not if I were white. How could I possibly feel bad about something I never knew I had?

If I were white, I’d be a complete asshole:

If I had a sympathetic heart, perhaps I’d have compassion for non-whites and their struggle but, to put it bluntly, I have my own shit to deal with. Living in New York — whether you’re black, white, or in between — is difficult. So, OK, I’m sorry that I’m moving into the neighborhood you, your parents, and grandparents have inhabited for…what? Has it only been a few decades? You should be ecstatic that white people are moving into your neighborhood. (Or is it still “The Hood?”) We’re bringing awesome businesses and fantastic events to these dirty, archaic neighborhoods you won’t be calling home anymore.

By the way, I find it completely offensive when you use the term ‘gentrification.’ There is no such thing. OK, maybe there is. But you people are making it seem worse than what it really is, like slavery. It’s not that bad…”

All Jokes Aside: What If I Were White?

If I were white, I’d only be white because we continue to perpetuate the ridiculous necessity to label and segregate one another. Social privileges associated with the racial paradigm exist only because we allow them to exist. Are we humans really so perceptually primitive that we allow something as frivolous as skin color to dictate the physical and mental dynamics of our lives, including our roles in society? If so, we’ll never be united.

5 Responses to Uncensored New York: How Would White Privilege Affect Me If I Were White?

  1. RealitySucks says:

    The author should also write an article about how much he would enjoy footing the bill for everyone, if he were “white” – both financially and as a scapegoat for all minority problems. I’m tired of hearing this crap. I am 50 and I went to school with blacks, latinos, Italians, etc. We all sat in the same classrooms, all read the same books, ate the food in the cafeteria, played together in PE class.

    The differences are not imposed by the “white man” at school or at work – they are cultural and start at home. Act ignorant and raise your kids the same and it is no surprise you end up with ignorant adults.

    Take some personal responsibility for your position in life…

  2. bikerscholar says:

    I think the writer of this piece displays excellent communication skills. I only continue to wonder about the self-fulfilling prophecy of foot-shooting, defeatist/victimhood self perception. It is a cultural failure, which means it is an individual failure, repeated ad infinitum, which can only be solved by those who own their own lives and outcomes.

  3. D.B. Cooper says:

    Japan is the only true first world nonwhite country (not counting an easy to manage small country like South Korea) in the world. They were lucky enough in the 19th Century to have an emperor who idolized Europe and America, and wanted Japan to be like them. They succeeded, but got some of the bad habits in the process, like colonialism.
    If you are not white, you will only get frustrated if you try to “catch up” to the white man’s 21st century technology, when your people can’t even copy his 18th century tech yet.
    Your electricity, plumbing, paved roads, and weapons are what the white man is willing to sell you.
    A lot of you need to thank the United Way, the Red Cross, the Peace Corps, the Army Corps of Engineers, UNICEF, and many church groups for giving you the illusion that you are civilized. If you can’t do it yourself, then you’ll never be equal.
    If you are lucky enough to marry white, your kids are the most intelligent and attractive among your people, aren’t they?

  4. morganty says:

    Enjoyed the piece. I am white, and I have no idea what you mean by white privilege. I’ve spent 17 of 21 years of my adult life in poverty, that means below the self support reserve as set by the Dept. of Health and Human Services. And yet, I don’t attack police officers when they ask me not to walk in the street, nor do steal, rob or others covet that which individuals of means have in an illegal manner.

    That has nothing to do with skin color, it has nothing to do with the environment your raised in, it has everything to do with the personal choices one makes in one’s life. Your article, while meant to stir thinking on this subject omits the single most important facet of existence as an American Citizen, that of personal accountability. Until articles like this are replaced with articles and opinion pieces that force all individuals, not just non Caucasians to think about their own personal accountability to their futures and how they control their own destinies, the endless race game in this nation will continue to be played on a large scale, especially by the media.

    • D.B. Cooper says:

      It’s the 21st Century. If “they” haven’t gotten their act together by now, it’s not going to happen. Even with whitey being hobbled by Affirmative Action, they still need a boost.

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