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Two Dragons welcome the sunrise with an improvised dance atop the Andes. Photo by Ryan Gasper.

10 Things You Should Know About Being a White, Lucky, Wealthy Male in the South

Protesters hold a sign during a rally to take down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina Statehouse, Tuesday, June 23, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. For years, South Carolina lawmakers refused to revisit the Confederate flag on Statehouse grounds, saying the law that took it off the dome was a bipartisan compromise, and renewing the debate would unnecessarily expose divisive wounds. The shooting deaths of nine people at a black church in Charleston, S.C., have reignited calls for the Confederate flag flying on the grounds of the Statehouse in Columbia to come down. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

After the instructors showed us a list poem, and challenged us to write one about personal characteristics and life experiences, I had a ton of trouble writing this. But then Sandy showed us “I Am Not Your Negro”, a movie comparing James Baldwin to MLK and Malcolm X. Then I finished the poem easily, with Baldwin’s thoughts fresh in my mind.

  1. Your privilege stays with you. No matter how hard your parents try to act worldly, travelling with you to “third world countries”, encountering extreme poverty and death, your privelege will never be erased.
  2. When you move back to the U.S. and realize everyone in your private middle school looks just like you, you will be the only one who sees. To them it’s normal, to you it’s a problem. At first it is just uncomfortable, a small itch waiting for a scratch. But when you went to an elementary school in a foreign country with a diverse class, the monotonous white, which you are now a part of, will make you angry.
  3. When you switch to a public magnet school, with a failing 90% black school 10 minutes away, don’t be suprised that your school is 85% white. Your friends sure aren’t suprised.
  4. When you finally have the guts to act on this problem after a race scandal looms over your school for months, be ready for backlash. Be ready to lose friends. Be ready to speak at useless schoolboard meetings, humiliating yourself at the front of a podium, to schoolboard officials who don’t listen.
  5. Be ready for support as well, from one of two black students in your grade of 145. It’s hard to voice the importance of diversity when you yourself are making the school less diverse.
  6. When you propose a plan to make the admissions to your school more fair towards minority groups, be ready for people to tell you that you are just making the school less smart.
  7. Be ready to have 9 black people murdered at a church one mile from your house. Be ready to hear MLK’s daughter speak, while still seeing confederate flags waving off in the distance.
  8. While participating in one of the whitest sports in the world (surfing), be ready to see confederate flag protests on your beach. Always remember, it’s hate, not heritage.
  9. Be ready to hear your mom’s best friend talk about how she sat next to a black person at church. You ask her why that is so strange to her. She replies, “The most segregated day in the South is Sunday.”
  10. You will never know what other people experience. You have every single advantage. You will never know what it’s like to be constantly watched in malls to see if you will steal. You will never know what it’s like to be pulled over because of a broken tailight, but return home to see it’s on. But you can always use your privilege to make a change.