Racism and white privilege are not the same thing. With actions breaking out all over Maine to say that Black Lives Matter, debate about racism and white privilege has broken out as well. Many people seem to confuse these two terms as if they meant the same thing. They do not.

Racism is the belief that certain things are true about entire groups of people who share a similar appearance and, perhaps, culture. For example, believing that one race is more honest or less hard-working than another race.

White privilege refers to the fact that a person enjoys advantages if he or she appears to be white and lives in the USA. For example, Harvard professor Dr. Henry Louis Gates, who is African-American, was arrested for allegedly breaking into his own home even though he had identification proving that he lived there.

A racist white person has white privilege. Even if not racist, the person still has white privilege.

Even if people are very poor and white, they still have white privilege. It is not primarily an economic issue.

Of course, there is also discrimination based on social and economic class. People are struggling to feed their families, and it makes them angry to have their white privilege pointed out. Sometimes the truth does make us angry.

We could all have a better debate if we could get some clarity about what these terms actually mean.

Lisa Savage


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