My blindness to the benefits of being white

by Mary Ann McGivern

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I decided to blog about white privilege and worked myself into a writer’s paralysis. I certainly have privilege. Twice police have let me go when I made an illegal left turn and once the judge waived the court fees on a traffic violation. I’ve never been pulled over for brake lights failure, holes in my muffler, not using my turn signal — where black women my age have accumulated hefty fines in greater St. Louis. We’re learning this bit by bit as reporters cover the municipal courts.

Nobody’s ever asked me to show my receipt for a purchase or refused to rent to me or refused me much of anything I wanted. I’ve worked hard and raised two foster sons by great good luck. Despite being a nun, I’ve had plenty of money worries, but my failures are my own and my obstacles no greater than others around me. The people around me, of course, are white.

My writer’s paralysis stems from my blindness to the benefits of being white. So I’ve resolved to read Shelly Tochluk’s Witnessing Whiteness. The St. Louis Catholic Worker community read it together last fall, and they say, “Read it.” I’ll write about the book next week as I read it, and perhaps some of you will be reading along with me -- or maybe you’ve read it already. Looking forward to your comments.

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