COLUMN: Dear white people, it’s time to acknowledge our privilege


Katja Benz

Katja Benz, Columnist

I’m white. I’ve spent my life incredibly fortunate and lucky.

There are so many people that aren’t so lucky. They get discriminated against just because of the color of their skin, which is something they couldn’t control.

There’s an issue with that though. Black people can’t control their skin color and white people don’t recognize that it isn’t okay to belittle them or discriminate against them for it.

Theoretically, we live in a country where all men were created equal.

I’ve never been looked at funny. I’ve never code switched, stood up straighter, gotten denied medical care or been denied entrance to a building just because I’m white.

And neither have most students at Eastern. According to the Eastern’s 2020 factbook, African American and Black students make up 13.12% of the student population, while white students make up 60.62% of that same population.

It’s not okay that the remaining 39.38% of Eastern students maybe get a month of events focusing on their culture.

The white population of Eastern should be doing more to support their students of color. Having a month’s worth of events just isn’t enough anymore.

People of color deserve the same amount of respect that white people get automatically. They shouldn’t have to fight anymore, especially in a country where all men were created equal, theoretically anyway.

As someone who has continually had to fight for herself, all I want is to fight for them too. Minorities deserve a rhetoric change, respect and so much more.

If the university prides itself on being diverse, equal and inclusive, then why don’t they do more to support their minority students, staff, and faculty?

The minority population of Eastern is still a part of the university. If people refuse to see them as such, then there’s a problem.

Being a minority isn’t a monthly thing, so we shouldn’t treat it as such. Support and equality are a year-round issue.

And if we live in a country where all men are created equal, then why are Black Americans getting denied healthcare, jobs or the basic human right to live?

We, as white Americans, have to do something about it.

We should have done more than posting a black square on our Instagram page and captioning it #blackouttuesday. That was never enough, and never will be.

That is the bare minimum of effort. Minorities deserve more than the bare minimum.

After black out Tuesday, I watched the Netflix documentary “13th”, which explores racial inequality in the U.S. while examining the racial disparity in prisons across the country.

There is so much that we, as white people, will never understand about what it means to be a Black person. It’s so important that we recognize that.

It’s so important that beyond recognizing it, we need to do something about it.

If you refuse to do something, then you aren’t American.

Katja Benz is a junior English major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]