Last week, I read NBA basketball player, Kyle Korver’s, article for The Player’s Tribune called “Privileged.” In the article, Korver discusses his very real awakening to the benefits of his white privilege. It took a few obvious and horrific instances involving his friends, for Korver to realize how he took his whiteness for granted and how it afforded him protection in ways that are not afforded to his friends of color. White privilege is real, white privilege means power, and demands responsibility and reflection.
I am a white, cis-gendered, heterosexual woman and I carry privilege with me every day
I am a white, cis-gendered, heterosexual woman and I carry privilege with me every day. When I walk into my classroom of immigrant students, when I walk down the street, when I’m not afraid to kiss my husband in public. I am using my privilege to advocate, to fight, to write, to resist. People in positions of power like this have to do that.
But how can we do that?
Fight for the Green New Deal because it outlines specific ways to remedy past racial and economic injustices. Think about your own economic footprint. Do you support businesses that pay a livable wage, or do you frequent business owned by people of color? Have you assessed the impact of your clothing purchases on vulnerable communities around the world? The time for sitting idly by and saying “not my problem” or “I don’t really have privilege” has passed.
It is all our responsibilities to ensure a better more equitable future. Period.
What can you do?
White people also have to, as Korver writes, “do my best to recognize when to get out of the way — in order to amplify the voices of marginalized groups that so often get lost.” Check your Twitter followers. Where are you getting your information from? Do you follow a variety of people with different racial, religious, cultural, abled, geographic perspectives? If you don’t know where to start, try the women of this Vice panel debating all things modern feminism. Then follow your local Congressperson and see who they follow, retweet, or suggest. Listen. Learn. Amplify those voices. If you have a knee-jerk reaction to someone, continue listening. Find common ground. Don’t run away because their experience is different. We all have more in common than we think.
In the yoga world, if you are in a position of power, can you offer free yoga classes in communities of color or create a scholarship program for communities under-represented in the yoga world? Yoga is not just for the few. If you believe yoga is for the masses, actively work to make it for the masses. You will find me teaching Free Yoga this summer and I’d love to help spread that idea worldwide.
I know this sounds preachy and I’m not sorry. White privilege can literally be the difference between life and death, between a warning and a brutal interaction with police, between a job offer and no interview. I love the Bad Yogi community and I know that as a positive, forward-thinking group of people we can have an honest, reflective, inclusive discussion about what white privilege means for individuals and communities around the world.