I’m a White Male But Don’t Understand My Privilege — Help.
A genuine outreach for help from the forward-thinking community.
Recently, I listened to a conversation between sports analysts about the hiring of American football star, Tim Tebow, to play the Tight End position for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The conversation, between Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman on ESPN’s First Take, was not about Tebow’s abilities. It wasn’t about whether it was a good move or a bad move. It wasn’t about sports, in general.
Their conversation was centered around privilege. White privilege. And whether or not Tebow getting the job was a result of it.
Tebow is a white male (pictured above). He’s a product of the Jacksonville area. He attended the University of Florida in Gainesville about a decade ago where he is somewhat of a local legend. Together, with Urban Meyer as his coach, they won multiple championships.
Now, Urban Meyer is with the Jacksonville Jaguars. It’s hardly a coincidence — given their history — that Tebow gets another chance in the NFL here. Not to mention, the duo — in addition to newcomer Trevor Lawrence at quarterback — will sell out the Jacksonville stadium every Sunday.
I listened to both men on First Take say their piece. I tend to disagree that it is a matter of white privilege. This is more of a marketing ploy than it is about privilege.
But as a white male, I shouldn’t get a say.
That’s what this article is about. I’m a white male who doesn’t fully understand my privilege.
Whether you’re a sports fan or not, you have probably heard the story of Colin Kapernick. A black quarterback who succeeded during his time in the league.
Then, one fateful day, he made the decision to kneel during the National Anthem in an effort to bring attention to the police brutality crisis against people of color.
In one moment, with one action, he divided the nation. You were either with him, or you saw his actions as atrocious and a complete disrespect to the country and our armed forces.
Full frontal, I side with Kapernick and I have since Day 1. He started a league-wide trend and transcended sports and politics. Soon, it was the biggest story in the United States.
Since being released for reasons unrelated to the incident (although we all know it was because he kneeled), he hasn’t been welcomed to another try-out for any team in the NFL.
Kapernick is a successful athlete who, at the very least, deserves to be given a chance on the field. There have been lesser-performing athletes (like Tebow) who have gotten signed since Kapernick’s debacle. However, Kapernick’s on-field antics have consequently kept him off the field. Everyone can agree with that.
Coaches, owners, and general managers don’t want anything to do with Kapernick or the drama which follows him. So, he’s largely sat out the prime years of his career waiting to be called on. It has become a case of race and privilege now.
And that’s not even the full Kapernick saga. His story is filled with wins, losses, and unfairness.
Many are comparing Tebow’s acceptance back into the game as a privilege Kapernick has never gotten. Many believe Kap will never see the NFL field again.
I see this comparison from a bird’s eye view. If you just see color — Tebow is white and got the job. Kapernick is black and is still waiting.
Looking closer, though, I don’t see Tebow’s hiring as race-related in the slightest.
Is my own privilege shining through? Let’s digest this further.
I don’t understand the true reality of my privilege.
Perhaps the fact that I don’t see this as white privilege lends itself to the over-arching problem with society today. For that, I apologize.
I do, inherently, accept that I’ve been the benefactor of white privilege my whole life. There are too many eye-popping statistics and generalizations to convince me otherwise.
The problem is I don’t recognize these privileges until somebody tells me. There are lives and realities that are so removed from my own, I can’t even fathom what it is like to be them.
As someone who has traveled internationally (and perpetually) for six years of my life, I’ve seen what life is like for those in poverty. I’ve witnessed people of color in their own country who treat me with more respect because I’m white.
I can recognize my privilege when it is right in front of me. But do I understand it fully? This is something I will ask myself until the end of time.
I can be aware of it. I can feel grateful for it. I can speak up against it. But do I even fully understand its magnitude?
I don’t. And I never will. Not at the rate I’m going. Not if I can’t see the Tebow hiring as unjust. Not if I still feel the need to voice my opinion on the matter.
I just don’t get it. I’ve tried so hard and I can’t figure it out completely.
I wrote this piece as a conversation starter. A way to educate me on my own privilege.
I can’t begin to understand without first engaging in conversation with those fighting the battle. I need to hear firsthand how I can do more to fight, too. How I can build myself better and recognize the injustices more frequently.
So, I invite anyone to comment with whatever this piece makes you feel needs to be said. I’m not here to debate or voice my own opinion. I’m trying to be empty of opinion as I take on the task of recognizing my full privilege.
Thanks in advance for participating and helping me understand.