My Children and the Limits of White Privilege

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-11-05 23:22Z by Steven

My Children and the Limits of White Privilege

Nursing Clio: Because the Personal is Historical

Danielle J. Swiontek, Assistant Professor of History
Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, California

Nursing Clio is honored to have Danielle J. Swiontek as our guest author today. Danielle is an Assistant Professor of History at Santa Barbara City College. She received her Ph.D. in History from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her dissertation, entitled “With Ballots and Pocketbooks: Women, Labor, and Reform in Progressive California” examines California women’s campaign for, and subsequent use of, the vote in the 1910s and 1920s.

The community in which I live held a march in memory of Trayvon Martin two weeks ago. It seemed so dated, in a way. In this 24-hour news cycle that we live in, it feels like forever ago since Trayvon Martin was shot and killed on February 26, 2012. It seems like ages since the jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of his death this past July. Yet the killing of Trayvon Martin continues to haunt me, as it probably does the people who joined the march. The news cycle has moved on, but the issues that Trayvon Martin’s death brought to the forefront have not. When I first heard about Trayvon Martin’s death, it made me fear for my son. That fear has not gone away in the last two months. It will probably never go away.

In a very specific, concrete way, I worry that my almost three-year-old boy will someday be shot by an overly zealous neighborhood watcher, by a police officer, or by someone who simply feels threatened by him, because of his size and the color of his skin. This is not a fear I would have if my son were white. I know this in my bones.

When President Obama offered his thoughts on Trayvon Martin and the experience of race in the U.S., I was not surprised by the experiences that others have found so striking. He talked about how he had been followed in department stores, how people locked their car doors when he walked down the street, how women were visibly nervous when he got on the elevator with them.

I am a middle-class white woman, but I believe I have some understanding of what those experiences feel like. I come to this conversation about race from a position of racial and class privilege. I was raised in a white, middle-class neighborhood by parents who lived out an archetypical American narrative of rising from working-class roots to a comfortable upper-middle class life…

Read the entire article here.

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