Personal Essay: I Have White Privilege and I Will Use It to Protect Those Who Do Not


Olivia Solomon, Advertisement Chair

In the past month there were four nationally-reported murders of black people in America. This does not include the numerous other hate crimes against them that did not make national news. If you do not feel disgusted, furious or appalled at this display of pure ignorance and racism, then you clearly do not pay attention. 

Amaud Arbery went for a jog in his neighborhood. Simply exercising, this 25-year-old black man could not even do that without being hunted down and fatally shot. George Floyd ended up on his stomach, handcuffed as a cop knelt with all his weight on his neck. Screaming “I can’t breathe” and “You’re hurting me,” Floyd died as a result of this assault. As a first responder, it remains the job of a cop to give aid when they hear physical distress. If the cop who killed Floyd and the three other cops who witnessed it were not capable of doing these simple tasks that come with the title of cop, then they do not deserve the badge pinned upon their uniform. Black transgender man, Tony McDade died after police mistook his movements to mean he had a firearm, and shot him to death. 26-year-old, unarmed Breonna Taylor died after eight bullets left a cop’s gun when they forcibly entered her apartment with a search warrant. Who will the next name be? 

As a white girl, I do not have to fear that being pulled over could result in my death. I do not worry that my older brother could be shot for going on a run. But I refuse to sit back and watch innocent people get murdered for having extra melanin in their skin. I have white privilege. I own it. I will use this privilege to help those who have to fear for their lives because of the color of their skin. No one gets to choose the skin and body they get born into. 

When people say “the system is broken,” I disagree. The system built by slave owners in the 1700s works just fine for the way they built it. We should not “repair” this corrupt system, but build a new one. In the year of 2020, we must end this hatred and racism. The fact that 300 years later lynchings still occur remains utterly unacceptable. Skin color, gender, sexuality, religion and ethnicity do not make a person any better or any worse than another. All people must acknowledge and use their natural-born privilege to protect those who were not fortunate enough to get that jog in without being gunned down. As anti-aparthied and human rights activist, Desmond Tutu put it, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Get up. Use your words. Protest injustice. Protect black lives.