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3 Lessons of Privilege I Want My Son to Accept, Then Manipulate

My son can’t help being white any more than I can. My son can’t help the fact that he is a male, and carries the features of his father. My son can’t help that he has power, but he will know how to use it.

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

I am blessed to have both a daughter and a son, and through their lives, they will learn unfortunate truths about our society. I feel a heavy weight as a parent when I consider the conversations we will have and the lessons they will learn, with or without my intervention. However, it is my duty to raise good human beings, and with my infant son growing quickly before my eyes, I think of the issues we will address as he gets older. He will have a duty to himself and society, because I will not raise complicit children. These are three important lessons of privilege that he will know and address, which are different than the challenges my daughter will face.

  1. He is white and male, therefore he has power.

That is the reality of our society. Simply by existing as a white male, he has an advantage over his sister. He has an advantage over anyone of color. In school he will be considered smarter, at work he will be considered confident, and among social circles he will not be a threat. These are his realities, and I will teach him to use his power to uplift others. He will understand that he got lucky drawing this genetic card and he will never act presumptuous for any success he has earned. Yes, his hard work will play a significant role, but he is already two steps ahead of women and minorities by doing absolutely nothing.

  1. He will use his voice to lift others.

My son will be taken seriously as a white male, and it is his burden to voice those that are ignored because of factors they had zero control over. He will speak for anyone who is marginalized and demand equality in unfair circumstances. He will do what is right, not what is expected, and he will never rest upon his whiteness in a bubble of ignorance. Essentially, my son will be bold enough to call “bullshit” whenever necessary.

  1. He will be an ally.

He will seek to understand the plight of others. He will not be shook when someone challenges him, claiming that his whiteness protects him. My son will agree with the obvious and then ask how he can help. My son will ask forgiveness when mistakes are made of ignorance and he will double-down on his efforts to understand and be better. He will defend women terrified to voice assault. He will stand beside minorities who can’t trust the police. He will call out his white, male friends who know they can manipulate the system and encourage them to be better, too. He will not engage in “bro code” or other societal hierarchies that protect people of privilege.

My son has privilege he was born with. It’s not his fault, and I will teach him that he should never be ashamed of who he is. His whiteness and gender are not problems but ignoring the power they grant him is. It’s time to start acknowledging the system of oppression that white males before him have built, because white males are a crucial piece of dismantling it.

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