In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.
"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had."
—F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby
Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the Earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.
May we remember, as we log on, that half the world's people have never used a telephone, and recall, as we chatter, that most of those around us have no chance to speak or move as they choose. May we recall that more than half a million beings live without food, and that as many children live amidst poverty and war.
What is a minority? The chosen heroes of this earth have been in a minority. There is not a social, political, or religious privilege that you enjoy today that was not bought for you by the blood and tears and patient suffering of the minority. It is the minority that have stood in the vanguard of every moral conflict, and achieved all that is noble in the history of the world.
I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was meant to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, code books, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks.
A man shows a narrowness of mind and becomes unworthy of his humanity by refusing any privilege to his fellow man because he is colored. Every prejudice entertained, every breach of justice and charity against a fellow-citizen because of color is a stain flung upon the banner of our liberty that floats over us.