Mr. Blue Hat / Gray Beard

11 MILES / 11 PHOTOS — people and things that caught my eye while trekking through Chicago one sunny morning.

Mr. Blue Hat/Gray Beard wouldn’t tell me his name, but he did nod, giving me permission to snap a few shots from the side.  I gave him a couple bucks and sat down next to him.  I’m not going to say anymore about him, other than this: If Jesus were to come back as someone few would recognize, I’m pretty sure he’d come back as Mr. Blue Hat/Gray Beard.  Probably just to annoy the majority of us.

I don’t think I’m a racist, though I am prone to make snap judgments about people, some of them brutal, based solely on externals.  For the sake of full disclosure, you should also know that my favorite actor is Denzel Washington.  I’ve seen all his movies twice; American Gangster, Training Day, and Crimson Tide three times.  I also have an 8-year crush on Halle Berry which I don’t imagine is going to end soon.

Ok, if I’m not a racist, what am I?  Among other things this: a recipient of white privilege.  Anyone who claims that the playing field in our country among whites and blacks is level is playing on a field that doesn’t exist.

I’m indebted to (or should I say, I blame) Peggy McIntosh of Wellesley College for her research on the topic of white (particularly white male) privilege.  Check out this link and read it for yourself: http://www.nymbp.org/reference/WhitePrivilege.pdf

As identified by Professor McIntosh, here are some daily, unconscious white privileges I enjoy that Mr. Blue Hat/Gray Beard doesn’t.  I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.  When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.  I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.  Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.  I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the person-in-charge, I will be facing a person of my race.  I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race. McIntosh adds to the list another forty-two privileges.

I thanked Mr. Blue Hat/Gray Beard for letting me “use” him as a subject.  Then I stuffed my expensive camera in my backpack and returned to my privileged world.   

 

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One Comment

  1. Jim April 3, 2012 at 10:33 pm #

    One of Gordon’s African American students told him one of the ways he feels racism: as he walks nearby sidewalks and arrives near an intersection, all four electric locks on car doors lock with an ear deafening “click” in choral unison.
    My naivate: never thought about it nor being on the receiving end of yet another form of profiling.