Maha, thanks for writing this. It’s an incredible post, and an extremely articulate conversation / explanation about what white male privilege is and why & how it’s important to consider. It’s a very difficult concept to get across but one that I think you’ve tackled extremely well – and simply too.
I first read it yesterday morning when you first posted it but had to come back, think about it a bit then read it again to work out where, how or what I would start with commenting. The very first thing it brought to mind was the #i’llridewithyou thread and convo that we had – and the question that you asked at the time: how many Muslim friends do I have? And the answer, to my surprise, was really very few. Sure I know and work with a few Muslim people, but really, they are more acquaintances than ‘friends’ as such. And (like Tania says) that did get me thinking about the diversity of the people I know, and particularly those that I’m close to. They all really are very ‘white’. Many of them white in a literal sense of being from an Anglo background, but also – even of those who aren’t (e.g. Asian, mixed, or other ‘non Anglo’ heritage…), they tend to be second generation and brought up very much in a ‘white Anglo-Australian’ culture – and identify very much with that culture. Sure, this doesn’t mean they don’t still get judged or discriminated against because they don’t look ‘white’ (I still do – although more often than not, it’s not direct discrimination… I do, Often, get asked ‘where are you from?’ This is not something I get offended by as it’s usually either from other migrants who are genuinely curious, and trying to connect, or people just wanting to make conversation…However, obviously someone from a white anglo background would never be asked such a question).
Anyway…thinking about the reason why I tend to have a very white circle…I wonder if it is because, as a second generation Australian, growing up in a time where being Asian was still a bit unusual, with parents who had been in English speaking countries for a while, and living in an area where there weren’t that many other Asians (or even really, people of colour in general) – I just didn’t really have the opportunity to develop a lot of close ties with people who weren’t white. I also think there was some aspect of unconscious bias passed on from my parents to avoid being ‘too Asian’ – as a way of fitting in. This may have been something I touched on in an edcontexts post.
Regardless, of why and how it may have come about, this definitely highlights and enhances my privilege – and I thank you and also my involvement with edcontexts as critical for helping me realise this – and even to understand what it means to be ‘privileged’ and how this impacts my perspective and actions. It is absolutely something that tends to be invisible to most people (I know it was to me) – essentially it’s like unconscious bias – and the first step to improving it is to recognise it exists, and how it exists and operates.
Thanks also for mentioning accessibility and inclusivity in relation to people with a disability. Something I’ve started considering too – but (only) because it is a requirement to make Australian government websites accessible to people with disabilities. Seeing how difficult it is to make a site accessible to visually and hearing impaired definitely highlights how designing for the able bodied (and right handed!) is the default state.