In 2014 Piers Morgan wrote an article for the Daily Mail titled, ‘If black Americans want the N-word to die, they will have to kill it themselves.’ Although I don’t usually agree with Piers Morgan for once he was talking a little bit of sense. He was immediately bombarded with responses calling him racist and arguing that because he was white, he did not have the right to voice his opinion on a ‘black issue’. Morgan argued back, “As a white man, I have no right to demand that any black person gives up using the N-word. But as someone who believes passionately in civil rights, I just think it’s the right thing to do.”
‘How do you feel when someone who doesn’t look like you speaks out on your behalf?’
Perhaps I’m being naïve but I refuse to see myself as a victim of my race, I never have and I never will. I have grown up in Edinburgh, I was educated at two good schools, I managed to secure myself a place in one of the best universities in the world, I’ve travelled and my parents have always been able to provide me with everything I need and most of what I want.
I could go on but my point here is that I am privileged and lucky but I am also a minority in a minority. Someone could point to me and say that I shouldn’t be using my voice because I have not faced racial discrimination in education, I’m yet to be a victim of it in the workplace and it does not impact my social life. I say, I understand what it is like to battle against a stereotype and I know exactly what it’s like to constantly feel like you are exceeding expectations. I’m looking at the same CEO’s, teachers, doctors, actors, artists, politicians and bankers as you and seeing nobody who looks like me.
Things need to change.
I believe the first step of progress is an acknowledgement. We talk so much about America but we very rarely look closely at Britain.
When I use the term ‘white privilege’ it is not intended demonise anyone or to make someone feel guilty about his or her race, it is a fact. If you’re born white, you’re already at an advantage or if you’re born black, you are already at a disadvantage.
On his new album, ‘This Unruly Mess I’ve Made’ Macklemore has a song called ‘White Privilege II’ inspired after he found himself on a ‘Black Lives Matter’ march in Seattle after Darren Wilson’s non-indictment. Macklemore addresses some relevant issues in his song and on his album, and the fact of the matter is this, the moment you accept your white privilege you can make a difference. After all, ignorance is bliss. But ignorance can also be dangerous and it’s this rejection of white privilege and an unwillingness to accept the everyday racism in Britain that means from 50 years from now we will still be having the same conversations about ‘a lack of diversity’.
This isn’t about grabbing placards and protesting and I’m not claiming to have all the answers. But, if the whole world sat on their privilege – however small or large that it may be – and never looked out for those less fortunate than themselves, then nothing would ever change. Open your eyes; after all, ‘your silence is a luxury’.