Bradley Scott

Archive for 2021|Yearly archive page

What is white privilege and why do we have to talk about it?

In Uncategorized on May 16, 2021 at 5:06 pm

If you identify as a “white person” or society in general sees you as white, you are among the majority of the people living in the United States of America.  Never mind that “white people” includes a vast array of diverse ethnic identities that have assimilated over time to form this homogenized group based primarily on skin color.  Regardless of this, as a “member” of the majority, you are, in most instances, entitled to benefit, either directly or indirectly, from institutions and societal systems that were set up by people who are also members of the same majority.  The fact that people like us (I am a white man) set everything up when the country was forming often means that when they were making decisions they did not consider those decisions from the perspectives of people who are not white. In some cases this was done deliberately and in others inadvertently, but the result is the same. And with our history in the United States as an immigrant nation that depended on slavery, to the extreme, and on the oppression of minority ethnic groups as the default, we have baked injustice into the fibers of our society (laws, biases, movies, bank loans, news media, immigration policies, etc.). 

Don’t take this personally.  The point of shining a light on this reality is to raise awareness so that we can talk openly about how white privilege affects both white people and people who are not white.  Don’t take it personally. We were born into a white supremacist society. I do not believe the men who have been credited with founding our nation were superhuman or particularly special men.  In most if not all cases, they were in the right place at the right time with the right social and professional connections that opened doors for them and propelled them forward. Maybe they worked hard for it, maybe they didn’t. What matters is whether or not we recognize privilege existed and still exists based on skin color (and many other factors), and whether or not we are doing anything to change our society – the laws, business practices and biases that close doors of opportunity to people of color and open them for white folk for no good reason other than ingrained bias, and sometimes malice (racism).

Privilege doesn’t mean you or I were born with silver spoons in our mouths. Maybe think of it like this: If you have sight, you are in many ways privileged compared to someone who is blind. You didn’t earn this advantage. If you have good health, you are privileged compared to someone who has a compromised immune system. You didn’t likely earn this privilege. You and I don’t have to spend mental, emotional or physical energy working through the barriers these disadvantages cause in one’s life. If you are white and speak English in America, you will automatically feel welcome in nearly every place you go. If you are black in America, or brown and speak little English, you are likely to feel unwelcome or out of place nearly everywhere you go. It’s an advantage, or privilege, not to have to feel unwelcome or out of place simply because of the color of your skin.

Our challenge is to acknowledge this fact and realize that doing nothing, or getting defensive, will only perpetuate the injustices that people of color endure all the time in our country. We are challenged to do something to balance the scales, to be active in making sure opportunity is a pathway that is open to every person living in our country. Anything less is, in fact, racism. It might be passive racism and not your fault or mine that our society was built this way, but this stance does nothing to change anything. We must actively work to be anti-racist and take steps to change the laws and biases that plague our collective progress.

“I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group”  – Peggy McIntosh


Black Lives Matter AND All Lives Matter

In Uncategorized on May 16, 2021 at 4:34 pm

Black Lives Matter AND All Lives Matter. It is a false choice to think only one or the other is possible or true. In fact, neither is true nor possible without the other. So, let’s stop seeding divisions in our minds, hearts, communities and nation based on this faulty premise. Instead, let’s put our full energy into making good on our promise to each other “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

If you feel left out when you hear Black Lives Matter – welcome. You now have a small sense of what it feels like to be excluded and marginalized. But no one standing for black lives is excluding you or me. We are just lifting up one group of people among us that is hurting and that has been hurting in our country for hundreds of years. We are supporting their call for justice and full inclusion. We are supporting their call for us all, but especially our police, merchants, judges and teachers, to stop seeing them as a threat, as dangerous, or as less than.

For all my white brothers and sisters, this moment in time is yet another opportunity to become aware of the injustices our black brothers and sisters experience and to show we care about the rights and freedoms of ALL people. I am convinced that we all agree that all lives matter, but this is the moment for us to hold up the rights and freedoms of our black brothers and sisters because none of us can continue to look the other way when blatant abuse is perpetrated against unarmed black people.

We cannot continue to pretend everything is ok – that racism does not exist. We all need to band together and draw a line in the sand, and we each need to concede some of our space and our power and our privilege. One way to do this is to learn to be ok with feeling excluded. Try it on. Imagine what life might be like if you felt this all the time. If you are white like me, the momentary feeling of discomfort is not likely to last very long.

Yes, many white people are also made to feel less than, but not simply for the color of their skin. It’s usually due to other immoral prejudices toward poverty, body weight or sexual orientation, all things that black people suffer for as well. But racism is uniquely corrosive and unjust. Racism was created to justify slavery in our country. Racism placed people with white skin above people with black skin and removed all rights of freedom and justice from a whole group of people based solely on skin color.

To justify racism, we conveniently forgot that Jesus was not white. We decided god was white and that only white people were created in his image. We convinced ourselves we were the chosen ones. We created a whole mythology that put white protestant people above all others and condemned “others” to be happy with less and to believe they are inferior. This mythology is at the root of institutional racism. In the United States of America, white men with money and power gave themselves god-like status and devised a system of democracy with the ideal that all men are created equal. They just left out the implied understanding that all men are white men. Everyone else is something less. All other men and all women were excluded from holding power and enjoying the blessings of liberty.

Until we fully reckon with the full and complete truth behind the original intent that underlies our democracy, all non-white lives will suffer under the knee of this lingering, rotting, un-Christ like myth that the white man is supreme.

We must acknowledge that the mythology at the root of our democracy is racist and sexist. There is much to be proud of when it comes to our Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights that holds up our U.S. Constitution. We have much to be proud of as a nation, and we can be both proud AND critical. We can celebrate our achievements AND continue working to form a more perfect Union.

What we cannot afford to do is get stuck in the destructive mindset that pits these complementary actions against one another. It’s the same logic that pits Black Lives Matter against All Lives Matter. It isn’t one or the other. One cannot be without the other – just as the blessings of liberty cannot be without dissent against laws and policies that oppress, discriminate and exclude. It is our heritage to fight against oppression in search of the ideal of equality of opportunity for all.

We have made progress and corrected many of the mistakes of our founding by amending our Constitution and changing our laws. These course corrections only happened because the people excluded stood up and said – ENOUGH. They demanded change and our democracy shifted toward inclusion. We should be proud that our democracy withstood these tests, but not complacent.

To my white brothers and sisters, we need to ask ourselves whether we still believe the myth of our founding, or not. If your answer is no, then please recognize that we need to lift up this truth, create a new mythology that is inclusive and just, and shout upon the mountain top that Black Lives Matter so that, once and for all, ALL lives will matter. We need to avoid the trap of “thinking well of our group in order to think well of ourselves.”

On the other hand, if your answer is yes, and you want to maintain the mythology that our founding was perfect and pure, please search your soul and weed out the falsehoods that press upon your neck and make you believe giving others their just liberty will lessen your worth and limit your freedom. This fear is holding you down. In truth, it is holding our nation down.

The myth that our world is a competitive, dog-eat-dog world is just that – a myth. Humans are meant to be loving caretakers of each other and of this amazing little planet we call Earth. Our true power is that we can choose the myth, or the reality, we want to be a part of. Wouldn’t you agree that love and liberty make for a better world to be part of than hatred and suffering?

To change our story, it is not enough to believe we are not racist. We need to take action. We need to balance the scales. We need to actively be anti-racist. And to be antiracist, especially for white people, we have to assume a position of humility. We have to have thick skin – loving hearts – and learn to be ok with and stand with the groups that are most oppressed in our country and have no recourse other than to shout ENOUGH! I’ll leave you with the guiding words of a black man in America who recently searched his soul for answers to his own internalized racism. Ibram X. Kendi writes in How To Be an Antiracist: “The heartbeat of racism is denial. The heartbeat of antiracism is confession.”