The other day a friend said something that left me gobsmacked. She said: "I don't believe white privilege exists."
She is a socially aware, vocal, woke AF person of colour, so for her to say this was totally unbelievable.
Her reasons were the usual: "I know so many black people who have more than me."
"White people also work hard."
"My white boyfriend had to go work for his dad because he couldn't get a job."
I let her continue (how convenient that her boyfriend could work for his dad – thousands of unemployed people don't have that luxury), but then I really listened to her.
I realised that her perception of white privilege, like so many others, is warped by her own circumstances.
Watch: Time Wise - On white privilege
When you are not struggling to find a job it is easy to think white privilege is not real. Similarly, when you blame every little hurdle on white privilege the real issues get overshadowed.
Not all black people are taking your job, and not all white people get things handed to them, but don't think for one second that this means white privilege is not real. I have experienced it in the little things.
There is often a tone of condescension and impatience when addressing POC in the office.
I initially thought this was just a thing at my first job, but I have seen it in every job I've been in. I even once encountered an intern who spoke down to me, his manager, because I was Indian. When he spoke to the white people in the office his voice was all sugar and honey.
White people are taken more seriously.
I spent months appealing to my boss to make changes to a project, bringing forth research and plans on how this would improve it. Nothing happened. A new, white employee (who didn't even work in my department) made the same suggestion, and it was implemented within in a week.
You can get away with a lot more when you're white.
I worked with two equally incompetent employees. For some strange reason the black employee was fired and the white employee was allowed to finish his contract. That makes no sense to me.
While these are incidents that I have personally seen and experienced, they are not isolated. All of my friends have similar stories. And this is just surface level stuff.
We haven't even gotten to the issues of limited POCs in managerial roles, the degree of disrespect for Coloured, Indian and Black people or how this all intensifies if you're a woman.
These little things are the tip of a very big, complicated iceberg, I do think that it's time we acknowledge them - it can be a catalyst to affect change on bigger issues. We have to recognise white privilege in every form so people can stop thinking it no longer exists.