Why is talking to a white person about white privilege so difficult? Because white Americans live in a social system that has historically given them easier access to opportunity. When imagining how others have experienced college, getting a job, or encountering a police officer, extending their own experience makes it hard to recognize the flaws in a system that generally plays in your favor.
But blogger and pastor Jeffrey Wright has found a new metaphor which elucidates the blindness that white Americans have about their own privilege. When Wright began riding a bike in Lansing, MI, the capital of America's most automobile-friendly state, he saw a city of drivers completely unaware of how vulnerable he was as a cyclist.
"Now most people in cars are not intentionally aggressive toward me. But even if all the jerks had their licenses revoked tomorrow, the road would still be a dangerous place for me. Because the whole transportation infrastructure privileges the automobile. It is born out of a history rooted in the auto industry that took for granted that everyone should use a car as their mode of transportation. It was not built to be convenient or economical or safe for me."
In her Big Think interview, Majora Carter explains how race does not exist in a vacuum and that class, environment, and health all affect social justice in America:
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