I've know it for years. The world taught me from a young age what I see so clearly now: I am a white man in America, and that basically means I'm better than you. Not at everything. There will be some accomplishments you may beat me in, but in overall quality of life? I've got you beat by a longshot.
I'm better than you because I'm white. I've never been at a disadvantage because hundreds of years ago generations of my ancestors were oppressed and enslaved. In fact, somewhere down the line my ancestors may have been slave owners. I've never been owed 40 acres and a mule, reparations many of my race never received.
I'm better than you because people don't automatically think to lock their car doors when they see me walking down the street. I can walk around night or day in a hoodie and not think twice. I can get in my car and drive down any southern backroad at night and not fear breaking down or getting pulled over by the cops. I'm white, I'm privileged, and I'm better than you.
I'm better than you because when I wave a Rebel flag I can call it heritage. When you quote Malcolm X, it's hate speech. I can hold up two fingers in a V posing for a picture with buddies and it's just goofing around. You? You hold those same fingers up in a picture, you're throwing up gang signs. I can hold a wad of cash in my hand and it's basically just a withdrawal from my hard earned bank account. The wad of cash in your hand is from you dealing cocaine.
I'm white, and that makes me better than you. If I wear a hat backwards, it's a style. You? You're a thug. If I wear baggy pants and listen to nothing but rap music and talk in slang terms, the worst I get called is a "wigger", which is really just an underhanded insult at you. Yes, my skin color is white, and I'm so much better than you.
I'm white, which means I'm more likely to get that big time job than you. You need Affirmative Action to even get a shot at the same scholarships I'm getting. I'm white, so my options are pretty wide open. Your best shot is to play a sport.
I'm white. I can have nice things and people not assume I stole them. I can drive a nice car and people not assume I bought it with drug money. I could be a single mom with three kids and get sympathy from strangers. You're probably sponging off the government with welfare and food stamps. I come from houses and subdivisions, you're in projects and ghettos. I'm white and I'm better than you.
I'm white. People care if my daughter is tragically kidnapped. Black faces get lost in the crowd. If I get addicted to drugs, I need to get help. You? You need to go to jail. When a tragedy like the Holocaust occurs, we teach our children in classrooms about it. When similar scenarios happen in Africa like the Rwanda genocide, it barely gets a mention.
I'm white. I'm good. No, I'm better. I've never been judged based on my skin. I've never been neglected based on my skin. I've never been pigeonholed or stereotyped based on my skin. I've never been the subject of a degrading "white joke" among a group of people.
I'm white. I'm privileged. I live a life of relative ease and comfort. And yet few others that are white seem to realize they are in the same shoes.
Maybe that's why so many white people don't "get" Ferguson. We've never been unarmed and shot at by police. Maybe that's why we don't "get" Trayvon Martin. We've never been indicted as a criminal simply because we're wearing a hoodie in the wrong neighborhood. Maybe this is why we don't "get" the AIDS crisis in Africa. We've never been a part of a community with so many sick and dying people. And until we "get" that we have privilege many others never experience, we can't truly love those who need help the most.