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check your privilege: "the only people who have any notion of who they are the Black people"


In 1962, James Bladwin said “Whatever white people do not know about Negroes reveals, precisely and inexorably, what they do not know about themselves.” 17 years later, speaking at UC Berkeley in 1979, Baldwin said "the only people who have any notion of who they really are are Black people". Our society deprioritizes black bodies in a systematically prejudiced way. Language, economy and beliefs were passed down for generations in the same way. Black identity is an external label handed down to Black people in the same way I was handed priviliege, opportunity, college, a middle class life with two cars in the driveyway and a focus on education and opportunity. I did not select this privilege, and Black people do not select their identity. Black people do not choose to be excluded, or deprioritized, or depriviliged. Black people never have the chance that I have to consider what it might be to not have privilege. To not consider this injustice is to accept it. To continue, to go about my day without considering how I have an advantage over others is to accept the injustice and use it and agree that it is OK and fair. Evaluation of my privilege is essential. To be anti-racist is to address this priority and access and advantage. To listen to Baldwin's voice. To listen to Malcolm X and Toni Morrison and MLK and Michelle Obama and the man on the street who has a story to tell about how he grew up and can he get something to eat. Because he at a minimum knows where he is. He is constantly reminded of this truth in our world. We can go on without seeing it because that is a privilege -- to not see it. To not have to see the privilege. We must make time to see it. We must force ourselves to look and to find and to see it. TO see it is not to delete the privilege, or to make ammends, or feel better, or heal. To see it is the beginning.

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