For a long time, I never considered myself privileged.
‘I’ve worked hard all my life’, I’d tell myself.
And that’s not entirely incorrect.
I was a paper delivery boy from the ages of 12 to 18 and let me tell you, a 6ft 2 paper boy is not a good look. I did this every day, Monday to Saturday, at 6 am, for a couple of pounds a week. I’d turn down Friday night parties so I could make sure I was up early enough to deliver terrible tabloid newspapers through old, broken letterboxes.
My illusion of privilege continued as I got older. While studying at uni, I worked pretty much full-time, doing a wide variety of grim jobs.
I’ve had to unblock more toilets than I care to admit. I’ve been screamed at and had coffee thrown over me by customers. I’ve dealt with health problems, both physical and mental, that brought me to my knees for many years.
But please, don’t misunderstand - this isn’t to show that I’m a great, hard-working guy.
It’s to show that like many of us, I falsely believed that I’m not privileged.
Confronting my privilege
Unfortunately, I was short-sighted. I didn’t realise the incredible privilege I have, and it’s something that I’ve not had to work a single second for.
Simply put, I’m a white man.
I’ve walked into job interviews hoping that I don’t say something stupid, but I’ve never had to walk in and hope that the colour of my skin doesn’t work against me.
I’ve never had my name shortened or altered so other people don’t have to learn how to pronounce it.
I’ve never had my likes, dislikes, attitudes, and beliefs stereotyped because of my pigmentation.
I’ve never been targeted by law enforcement because I’m a different colour.
I’ve never been the victim of insults and abuse about my race.
The fact is that I have never had to consider how my skin colour affects my safety, prospects, and overall life - and that is the very definition of white privilege.
Most of us aren’t racist. We aren’t hateful, and we believe that the colour of people's skin is irrelevant- we are all equal. Unfortunately, though, things don’t seem to be getting better. It’s been 57 years since Martin Luther King’s 'I have a dream' speech, and racism continues to persist - and people continue to suffer. Reinforced by recent news, it’s clear that simply being ‘not racist’ isn’t quite enough. It’s not good enough to simply not participate in racial prejudice and pat yourself on the back.
We must participate in anti-racism.
Anti-racism is defined as actions, movements, and policies that are developed to directly oppose and tackle racism. To be an anti-racist, you have to be actively conscious about race and racism (including your privilege, if that applies to you) and take action to end racial inequality. This involves:
Educating yourself: It can be hard to connect with something you don’t experience on a daily basis. Make an effort to fully understand what an anti-racist society might actually look like. Ibram X Kendi’s ‘How to be an anti-racist’ is a great book on this.
Confronting your biases: Look hard and deeply at yourself, and confront any biases you might have. Walk boldly towards them.
Embracing unity over comfort: Changing the very fabric of society can be an uncomfortable process. It can be shameful to realise that you have some deep-lying biases that you never knew you had. Be outspoken, even if it’s difficult.
What we’re doing:
Vivo Life is a company with unconditional compassion for all living beings at our core. We want to help people be the best they can be while taking care of the planet and every living being on it.
But we are all humans, and that means that we all have unconscious biases and perceptions that we’ve been forced from a young age. To challenge ourselves, we’ve embarked on a 7-day anti-racism challenge provided by United Street Tours. This is 7 days of short and simple challenges that aims to challenge our perception and educate us.
This blog isn’t intended as a promotional piece and you won't find any product links here. I wanted to share with our community that we are not simply standing by and ignoring glaring issues that contaminate our society.
But with the right attitude, and some uncomfortable conversations and actions, we can all make sure that racism will one day only exist in the history books.