Yesterday, a guy named Rob Gray from the University of South Alabama came over to interview me for a video project he is doing on race relations. It was a good interview, I think. I don’t like being on camera very much, mainly because I feel a lot of pressure not to do simple things like clear my throat while I’m talking. What if I say the most profound thing ever – yeah, like that would happen! – but they can’t use it because I scratched my nose mid sentence.
It seems like a good project that Rob is doing. We talked off camera, while he set up his equipment and broke it down, about how precarious it is to answer questions about race, how those answers can affect a person’s life or career, and how we tiptoe because we know what can result.
The only question he asked me about race that I found uncomfortable to navigate was one about “white privilege.” Does it exist? Yes, I think it does. And my previous answers to his questions about questions about racism being attitudinal or structural explained my response. I think that human beings are – for better or worse – drawn to people like themselves, which automatically makes racism possible. And, since three-quarters of Americans are white, that makes attitudinal racism become structural, whether accidental, unintentional, or intentional. Does expressing that idea make a lot of people uncomfortable? Yes, I’m sure it does. Because to some people it implies that white people are guilty of some wrongdoing. Maybe we are. Maybe I will regret saying so.