We Have White Privilege
By Hannah Lucia Gries, Louisa Hotzelmann, Dinah Potthoff & Veronike Uhl.
Seven months ago, policemen of Minneapolis murdered George Floyd and a worldwide social racial justice movement started. People of all backgrounds, ages, and genders united to march in outrage and in hope, to fight racial injustice, not only in the US, but around the world. It was a wake-up-call for many people, a reminder, that not only in the US, but also here in Europe, we are far from a colour-blind, equal society.
Many of us white people asked ourselves how we can help. How can we make a difference towards a more just world that doesn’t discriminate people based on their skin colour? What can we – white people - do? At the beginning of last semester, the four of us decided to use our Value Creator to find that out.
We began to dive into the topic and to educate ourselves more before reaching out to a network of stakeholders and conducting interviews with them. We contacted and talked to people from four broad categories: individuals and representatives of organisations engaged in anti-racism work, Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC), individuals that hold white privilege, and representatives of institutions that might have
We had to learn that, though invisible to us as white people, racism is not just a concept of the past or acts of hate, committed by a few, bad people. It is structural; interwoven in our systems and in our brains.
Those who are affected must deal with it every day, as racism is embedded into almost every aspect of society. It controls our thoughts through unconscious bias, and prevails in our history, our institutions, healthcare, political and educational system. It reproduces and strengthens itself, an interconnected system of white supremacy and structural disadvantages.
But there cannot be disadvantages for one group without benefits for another. This brings us to the flipside of the coin that racism is: white privilege. The invisible entrance ticket that opens doors and protects those who were born with it, unattainable to the rest of the world. The “invisible knapsack”, as Peggy McIntosh so famously called it, is the whole reason behind racism.
„White privilege is like the air we breathe: We don’t really know it’s around us unless it’s unavailable”
- Suzannah Weiss
Therefore, we decided to focus the remainder of the Value Creator project learning about ways to raise awareness on white privilege. After considering different options, we decided to create an Instagram account, called wehavewhiteprivilege, highlighting all the different aspects of white privilege. It was important to us to approach the audience on an eye level and be transparent about our learning process. We were aware of the shortcomings of being an all-white team and that we will likely make mistakes. We dealt with the situation by committing to acknowledging our mistakes and being receptive and thankful for all feedback we would eventually get.
Next, we came up with a coherent design and a concept for the account to increase our recognition factor. We decided to create a statement in the form of “Never have I ever…” for each post. Each statement is followed by an explanation of the issue, more information, quotes, definitions, and recommendations for further research material. As Reni-Eddo Lodge puts it, “racism is a white problem”. Therefore, with our account we raise awareness for white privilege – and what it means to live without it. An understanding of it is necessary in order to dismantle white supremacy and create an anti-racist society. There is no racism without white privilege.
If this sounds interesting to you, feel free to take a look. We’re really happy and proud of our work and are curious to hear what you think!
The VC team Louisa, Veronika, Lucia, and Dinah