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Friday, 28 April 2017

White privilege

Last week, I read the words white privilege again in a Dutch newspaper. Being white myself, it’s hard to have a non-biased opinion on this topic. The 1st time ever that I felt my whiteness was in Atlanta, Georgia, back in 1996. I felt less white in Kenya than in southern USA.

I do recognise the concept of white privilege, although I think I've been in denial most of my life. Even in my 29 March 2016 blog, I expressed surprise of using skin colour in assuming an identity. Our skin colour is a mere technical consequence of genetics and location.

Some 5,000 years ago, white skin colour suddenly emerged in Europe following a highly successful DNA mutation. A black skin protects against abundant African sunlight but blocks the low levels of European sunlight. Sunlight is important for our physical and mental health as it regulates the production of hormones in the human brain (eg, NYTstudy).

The disadvantage of my white skin appeared after two short visits to Kenya in 2012/2013. Within some months after my return, I developed skin cancer (a melanoma). I have a scar on my back as a reminder. I was lucky as it was "innocent" but clearly "every advantage has its disadvantage". Latter is the opposite of Johan Cruyff's famous saying.

The enormous success of this DNA mutation is one of the reasons for an extreme belief like White Supremacy. White privilege is another belief which is restricted, both in Time and Space (location). As long as people believe that whites are privileged then it is true. The moment when beliefs change then this perception will change too. 

I do recognise this concept of white privilege. In my my 9 August 2016 blog I wrote: "I am lucky. In fact, I have always been lucky, ever since my childhood. I was born under a privileged Zodiac, in a privileged country and with privileged parents". I have no idea how it must feel to be a "Black Man in a White World" (see below).

I do also recognise that with "great privilege comes great responsibility" (eg, link 1, link 2, link 3). The origin of this quote may be rooted in Romans 3:1-8 (source). Quote Investigator was unable to find the definitive source of a related quote: "With great power comes great responsibility".

I use the 3 ethics principles from my audit profession for exercising this responsibility: impartiality, independence, and professionality. In my blog these 3 translate to unbiased, open-minded, and sound opinions, rooted in my beliefs. Nevertheless, the Disclaimer section of my blog states: "However, please realise that I express my beliefs, not the Truth."

My denial of white privilege has ended. I am accepting my white skin as my cultural identity. I am proud of my white skin. Still, I prefer its light brown summer tainting. One summer evening, Joan and I compared our skin colour. We were identical in colour and we laughed.

Black Man in a White World (2016) by Michael Kiwanuka

I'm a black man in a white world
(I don't mind who I am)
I'm a black man in a white world
(I don't mind who you are)
I'm a black man in a white world
(I'm not wrong, I'm not wrong)
I'm a black man in a white world
(Oh it's alright, it's alright)
I'm a black man in a white world
(Oh it's alright)