The concept of “white privilege” has become central to the conversation about system racism. So, what is white privilege? Let’s refer to how Dr. Akilah Cadet breaks it down:
Privilege is characteristically invisible to people who have it. People in dominant groups often believe that they have earned their privilege and anyone who worked hard could have privilege also. But when it comes to privilege, there are two forms: unearned and earned privilege.
Unearned Privilege is privilege that is granted to people in dominant groups whether they want those privileges or not, and regardless of their stated intent. Examples include: Born in the US, educated, wealthy, English speaking, white, young adult/adult, Catholic/Protestant/Christian, male, non-disabled, middle/upper class, and leader. Unearned privilege is synonymous with white privilege, but keep in mind BIPOC people have unearned privilege too.
Earned Privilege is a person’s ability to acquire access to a privileged space like a company, special degree, title, license, or learned language. For example, an architect can practice without a license as long as they work under a licensed architect. Once an architect passes their licensing exams they no longer need to work under someone and can approve their own work, an earned privilege. A person who immigrates to America and either speaks or learns English has earned privilege.
White Privilege is an Unearned Privilege.