Ask Gee: Growing up in a racist family and recognizing privilege
I’m a straight white male. I was born and raised in south Georgia/north Florida by a racist father who was raised by a racist father (my grandfather was a member of the Ku Klux Klan for a period of time). Hell, I was named after my cousin, Alexander Stephens, who was the Vice President of the confederacy.
Thankfully my mother left my father when I was 10 and since then I have sought to use my straight white male privilege to be an ally to any person or group that is marginalized. To that end I am wondering what you would recommend to me and others that are in a position of privilege to be an ally to those that are not?
-Alex, Lynnwood, WA
Wow! I would like to some day find out how you came to the decision to not follow in the footsteps of your father and grandfather. You recognizing that white privilege does exist is already a huge step. Just know that it isn’t something you should feel shame about. It’s just something that is. You’re an ally already because you recognize it.
Also, continue to help spread inclusiveness. I believe that’s what we as a society still need to get better with. We must be better about everyone being included. However, we don’t do it by trying to always change the opinion of people. Sometimes people can say they aren’t racist, or they aren’t sexist, but then you see some of the policies that they support and it has you scratching your head. So, pay more attention to structure and policies that are put in place that continue to support racism.
I just want you to know that I appreciate you. Not just for me, but for the world. Folks like you make the world better.
I always look at some of the white people that were marching during the civil rights movement, and I wonder if I have that kind of courage. The kind of courage in which you’re willing to sacrifice your name and your entire family in order to fight for others.
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