BLACK & WHITE: TWO RACES. TWO REALITIES.
Before you read this, ask yourself this question:
DO BLACK PEOPLE AND WHITE PEOPLE LIVE IN TWO DIFFERENT WORLDS?
We hear it in class. We hear it in transit. We hear it at work. We hear it on our televisions. The words: the world isn’t in black and white. And while we’d have to agree with the metaphoric context, we’d have to disagree in a more literal sense. The society we live in tells us everyday that we, Blacks & Whites, live in different worlds. That’s the way it has always been and that’s the way it continues to be.
The first time I heard this question, I was young. Of course I thought to myself, what the fuck does that even mean? But as I get older, it makes more and more sense everyday. While I think a vast majority of Black people would agree, I think some Blacks and even more Whites would disagree. I think those who disagree mistaken two ideal concepts that create that gap between our worlds: opportunity and privilege.
Black people don’t have privilege, in general speaking, we have opportunity. Of course there are exceptions for those who may attain wealth, but for the rest of us living the Black status quo, we aren’t privileged. ALL White people, on the other hand, have privilege. What separates the two words, opportunity and privilege, is the word expectation. And for those who disagree, let me tell you this, unapologetically: YOU’RE WRONG!
Let’s examine these worlds below:
REALITY ONE: White People and Privilege
Privilege is defined as a special right and/or advantage. Not only examining our Ameri(KKK)an history, but also our present, we should be able to openly admit that these do not apply to the Black population. There are certain things White people can do and not be hindered in doing so, expect to be seen as normal, and not get reprimanded when doing so. White people can expect that the doll baby their children will play with will represent their skin color. White people can expect that their violent crimes will be diagnosed as a mental disorder and their case be long forgotten. White people can always say their “colorblind” when making offensive remarks. This is how privilege works. White people can expect that they will be surrounded by their people in the classroom or workforce. White people can expect that our (Black) daughters will grow up to idealize their beauty standards. White people can also expect that others will conform to what is comfortable for THEM. You expect, and the expected happens.. in that order.
REALITY TWO: Black People and Opportunity
Opportunity is defined as a set of circumstances that make something possible and/or a chance. Looking at where Black people are today in the political, social, and economic fields, I think it is safe to say that having a seat at the table (this sentence was inspired by Solange, btw) is not likely. While I find explaining this tedious, I feel obligated to shed light those who still don’t “understand.” What do Black people expect? Black people expect to be accepted to college on a sorry ass diversity matters scholarship. Those same Black people will then expect to only make it through two of four years of college because they can’t afford payments. Black people expect that they will get into it with police at least once in their life. Black people expect that the characters on their screens will not represent them accurately, even if who they’re looking at is Black. We expect, and may even get less than what we expect.
Expectation is what separates us, besides the noticeable skin complexion. Our struggles are not the same. Even if we do experience the same struggle, who will the system feel more empathy for? Yes, White people are poor. But who is the face of poverty in America? Yes, White people get killed by the police. But who holds their child close when they walk pass a police engine. Yes, White people get offended by “only white people” jokes. But who is raised from the moment they interact that you have to “act white” under certain circumstances?
In your world, you expect the highest. In our world, we expect the bare minimum, and even sometimes that’s a stretch. So again, do Black people and White people live in two different realities?