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On Racism and Privilege

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Message David Summergrad

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On Racism and Privilege

I have been hesitant to jump in to this important conversation, one that is so fraught with passion and strong emotions. The idea of putting my thoughts in writing is, frankly, a little intimidating.

So, I'll just try to share what I think I know.

I know that:

If I am walking to my car in a dark parking garage late at night, my heart beats a little faster, because I fear that I might get mugged. If I jog on a secluded trail in the woods, at my advanced age, I carry my cell phone, because I have a nagging worry that if I trip or collapse, no one will find me for a while. If I am riding alone in an elevator, and a man gets in with me, I may worry that I'll be robbed. But in all of these situations, it never ever crosses my mind that I might be sexually assaulted. As a male, I don't have to think about that possibility, and that is my unearned privilege.

I also know that:

If I get pulled over by the police while I am driving (something that has happened several times in the 50+ years since I got my driver's license) I may get a warning or a ticket or a scolding. But I have never ever thought to myself, "I might die right now." If I go for a walk at night in a part of the city where I don't live, someone may approach me to ask me if I am lost or if I need directions. But I have never ever thought someone might call the police because I don't "belong" there. I have, on a number of occasions, waited a long time to be seated in a restaurant, but I never ever had to wonder if it was because of the color of my skin. These are all examples of the unearned privilege I experience as a white person.

David Summergrad
David Summergrad
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David Summergrad, born in Harlem and raised in Glen Cove, New York, considers himself a lifelong warrior for social justice. He is a long time school principal, teacher, and curriculum developer, and he has been a consulting administrator in (more...)
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