It is not necessarily a privilege to be white*, but it certainly has its
benefits. That’s why so many of us gave up our unique histories, primary languages, accents, distinctive dress, family names and cultural expressions. It
seemed like a small price to pay for acceptance in the circle of whiteness. Even with these sacrifices it wasn’t easy to pass as white if we were Italian, Greek,
Irish, Jewish, Spanish, Hungarian, or Polish. Sometimes it took generations before our families were fully accepted, and then usually because white society
had an even greater fear of darker skinned people.
Privileges are the economic “extras” that those of us who are middle class and wealthy gain at the expense of poor and working class people of all races.Benefits, on the other hand, are the advantages that all white people gain at the expense of people of color regardless of economic position. Talk about racial benefits can ring false to many of us who don’t have the economic privileges that we see many in this society enjoying. But just because we don’t have the economic privileges of those with more money doesn’t mean we
haven’t enjoyed some of the benefits of being white.