NewsCovering Kentucky


What is white privilege? Experts on both ends examine the concept

Posted at 7:08 PM, Jun 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-08 15:41:57-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — It’s not that white people don’t want to know about the concept of white privilege. The real problem is that most – if not all – don’t even recognize they’ve been living with it every day.

“People live in an existence that’s so completely different, you don’t believe it’s happening,” said Sara Fahim, who founded “Run with wolves,” which offers corporate and personal empathy training. Fahim is the daughter of an Egyptian man.

“He’s a very dark-skinned man who got pulled over for that often. And he was asked questions about how he was raising me,” Fahim said.

That experience gave Sara a deeper understanding of the privilege on a different end of the spectrum. Dr. Mark McCoy of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, experienced it on a much different level. He was arrested more than two decades ago for accidentally passing a counterfeit bill, which he got from an ATM. George Floyd was accused of doing the same before his death in Minneapolis last month. McCoy tweeted about that experience, and the two very different results, and also wrote an article about it for Newsweek Magazine.

“It’s like a fish in the water. A fish doesn’t realize it’s in water,” McCoy said of the white privilege we don’t realize surrounds us on a daily basis.

“I don’t think it says anything about the moral character of those who don’t notice their own white privilege, that’s understandable,” he said while adding, “We have a lot of tools now.”

We can use tools to fix the problem of racial divide and inequality, but it’ll take recognition and understanding – not just empathy to make that happen.

“White privilege is a barrier to realizing Dr. King’s dream,” said Adrian Wallace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “I’ve always said the ultimate issue is lack of common memory.” Wallace is the Vice President of Lexington’s NAACP branch.

Wallace feels most white people don’t even believe in the history of the black person’s plight. If that’s one obstacle to reaching equality, not believing a white privilege exists is another.

“White privilege doesn’t mean you haven’t suffered. It means your hardships and the way you’ve suffered are not because of the color of your skin,” Fahim said.

McCoy said he has no idea how his arrest would’ve turned out if he was a black man, but he does know he didn’t have to worry about being brutalized by police while they questioned him. And because he could trust in the legal process, it allowed him to move on with his life without a criminal record.

“I am well aware of the advantages I have in the world,” McCoy said.