“Parents” magazine: Why White Privilege Doesn’t Mean Your Life Is Easy—and How to Talk to Kids About It

Aug 5, 2020

The term white privilege is often misunderstood. But experts explain why it’s important to teach your children what it means and how to do that based on their age.

As parents continue to explore and discuss tough topics related to racial inequality and the fight for justice with their children, they’re bound to encounter language that stirs up a host of emotions and raises a variety of questions. For example, “white privilege” is a phrase that is more frequently cropping up in conversation these days.

“White privilege is receiving advantages, benefits, and rights that are unearned but given to white people solely because of the color of their skin,” explains BraVada Garrett-Akinsanya, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist in Plymouth, Minnesota. It’s a specific type of privilege, which people of color describe as the ability to be in the world without having to think about what it means to be white, she explains.

“Being white means that society ascribes positive attributes to a person simply because of the color of their white skin,” says Dr. Garrett-Akinsanya. “At the same time, society ascribes negative attributes to people of color. This process leads to providing unfair advantages to white people because being white means that the person is perceived to be superior to others who are not white.”

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