Image courtesy of Orenda Ayashe.


Check Your White Privilege

by Chiara Rachmanis

“White privilege doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been hard. It means that your skin color isn’t one of the things making it harder.”
- @kimblackproud

Race, religion, class, gender, and sexuality are some of the several identifiers that can give one person an advantage or disadvantage over another. In some cases this means getting away with shoplifting because you’re a white teenage girl, in others it means being killed by the police for sleeping in your car because you are a Black man.

As a white female, I was curious to learn more about what white privilege really means and really looks like. I leaned heavily on @soyouwanttotalkabout — an Instagram account I recently discovered that does an amazing job of distilling meaty, pervasive social issues into digestible squares of content. They explore white privilege in respect to why it makes people uncomfortable, what it means and what it does not mean, and even created an exercise for people to check their white privilege. I was inspired by @soyouwanttotalkabout to create a more in-depth overview of white privilege based on their post. If you’re an ally in progress reading this, I challenge you to do these exercises alongside me.

White privilege essentially refers to the absence of negative experiences attributable to race

So a bit of background. While the concept of white privilege is not a new one, it’s one that has been gaining particular focus in the ongoing conversation on race. The term started gaining recognition after activist Peggy McIntosh’s essay “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” in which she guides readers through the meaning of white privilege by portraying its effects as personal and tangible. White privilege refers to the absence of negative experiences attributable to race and the fact that societal privileges benefit white people beyond what is usually experienced by Black, Indigenous and people of color under the same economic, social, and political conditions. It exists as a result of years of historic racism and systems that have been designed to oppress Black, Indigenous and people of color. For a white person this can mean that you’re the dominant representation on all media, that nobody questions your citizenship, that products are designed for you first, and that your actions are not perceived as those of your entire race.

Why does talking about white privilege make people uncomfortable?

The word “white” often creates uneasiness as white people are rarely referred to or defined by their race. Secondly, many feel that the word “privilege” suggests that white people have never struggled and discounts the fact that they can be low-income or from rural areas.

Does NOT mean that DOES mean that
White people are made to feel guilty We get to learn about racism, rather than having to experience it first hand
White people can’t come from tough backgrounds The struggles and injustices we experience are not related to the colour of our skin
White people can’t struggle financially Our ancestors were not chattel slaves and we aren’t immediately harmed by this legacy
White people don’t experience injustices We have a responsibility to actively work towards racial equity

Here are some statistics that show how systemic racism exists on every level of society

Black graduates are 2x more likely to be unemployed
The net worth of a typical white family is nearly ten times greater than that of a Black family
Black people in the United States are 30% more likely to be pulled over by the police
Only 3.2% of executives and senior manager-level employees are African American
More than 60% of people in prison are people of color
Black women are 4x more likely to die in childbirth

Source: @soyouwanttotalkabout

Check your white privilege exercise

The following are examples of many ways people experience privilege but may not realize it. When I completed the exercise, I was surprised and uncomfortable at how many of these scenarios I was able to check off. But it was the kind of discomfort that called for some serious self-reflection. It was the kind of discomfort necessary for me to understand that I am at an unjust advantage to so many members of our society in ways that I would never even think of — that and realizing that BIPOC have to experience these instances all the time is what ultimately allowed me to recognize my white privilege.

please read the list and check off all of those that apply to you:

So what can I do with my white privilege?

Although white privilege can seem like something we might be uncomfortable or ashamed of having, we should actually look at our privilege as an opportunity — an opportunity to amplify the voices of those who don’t have it. The first step of using your privilege to stand with those without it is to acknowledge it.

Confront racial injustices and biases around you even when it’s uncomfortable.

Try to recognize parts of your identity that you don’t usually think about and once you’ve figured those out, you’ve started to determine your privilege. Learn about the challenges and hurdles that people who lack these privileges face in their everyday lives. With this, teach other white people the barriers to success for Black, Indigenous and people of color. Look for opportunities to speak up and take action everyday by asking questions, raising issues, and voicing your perspective. Confront racial injustices and biases around you even when it’s uncomfortable. Amplify voices that aren’t usually heard in meetings or group settings and make sure to circle back to conversations that have been interrupted. But remember to be mindful of not overpowering the group you are trying to support when you do speak up on their behalf. Being an ally also means knowing when to take a step back and just listen. Listen and learn from their lived experiences and remember that they are the experts. Promise to be more than just “not racist” — be actively ANTI-racist.


I am Rebecca Hoskins, and I’m a Graphic Designer. I am dedicated to using my voice to foster important conversations in both my personal and professional life. For me, anti-racism is about actively encouraging anti-racism in others, and I am always looking for opportunities to instigate understanding, reconciliation, and change.


Born and bred in New York City, Orenda Ayashe started drawing at age 5 and began journal writing at age 13. Synesthesia is the rare ability to see sounds and in 2003, Orenda began visually interpreting music through her abstract acrylic paintings. Since 2007, many of Orenda’s award-winning paintings have been viewed and purchased through various organizations including Arts Unlimited, Allied Arts, Soco Culture, Maple Valley Arts, Poverty Bay Artists and other Puget Sound venues. Peter Max was the first artist to inspire the style of visual art that she enjoys painting. Her compositions include social realism, synesthetic depictions of music, abstracts and dream imagery. Regardless of subject, she utilizes bold color, graphic elements and exaggerated shapes to create worlds which are both whimsical and exciting. Dots, circles and stars are signature elements consistently incorporated in her pieces. You can find more of her works at