Have you checked your white privilege?

By Julia Falso, Undeclared, ’24

When society thinks of racism, it is thought of as violence and or slurs.  Although, the small innuendos that are also racist, are often not recognized by the privileged. The show, Grey’s Anatomy, includes portrayals of common racist situations to bring awareness of the less obvious actions of racism to the viewers. In this particular scene Amelia, a family friend of Maggie, asks her if she was being racist towards her collegue Stephanie Edwards. Maggie goes on to explain how these discrete innuendos create a “low buzz” of pervasive racism.

Amelia does not realize the pervasive racism that many African Americans experience daily because of her white privilege. White privilege is having  benefits from being white over another race due to the color of their skin. African Americans live their life with this everyday, by being assumed to be lower than the white person next to them. Maggie explains this as being told that coach is not boarding the plane yet while she has her first class ticket in her hand. The white privilege here is that there is an assumption right off the bat that an African American can not afford a first class ticket. Or that when an African American person is seen in scrubs they are assumed to be a nurse and not a doctor.

A big part of white privilege is not racism. White privilege is not realizing that white people have an inherent advantage. It can be described as “an invisible package of unearned assets”. So, unconsciously our world is centered around white people since the advantage is already there for them. It is the fact that white people can turn on the television and find that most reporters and people in the spotlight are their same race. And that when a colored person makes their way to a spot of recognition, it is a special success.  If it was ever the other way around, perhaps where a world of all successful positions were predominately held by colored people and it being special recognizable moment when a successful spot is held by a white person.

Some will say that white people have disadvantages too. They will say that everyone starts off equal and everyone faces challenges. It is not to say that every black person has it worse than every white person. The point in bringing attention to white privilege is for white people address and realize the benefits they unknowingly receive, to make it a more inclusive world. To recognize that you have already started off with an advantage by being white, because in todays society white is unintentionally assumed to be superior.

Greys Anatomy explains and helps bring attention to white privilege well by having Maggies character explain the varieties of racism. Since white privilege is the unknowing part of society, it helps that she explains the low buzz because that is the hard to recognize part. It is easy to tell when a white person uses racist slurs to a colored person that it is indeed racist. The harder to realize part is why it is important to explain what racist can look like on a smaller scale, so it can be recognized and changed.