However, in “Understanding and Dismantling Privilege,” education scholar Robin DiAngelo states that people of privilege need to become involved in discussions on race. “White silence,” she says, “functions to maintain white power and privilege and must be challenged.”
Racial biases have real consequences. Qualified black professionals with equal or more experience than white applicants are overlooked in the job market, according to a study by Malik Miah, editor of “Against the Current.” These jobs are going to less-qualified whites.
In a 2012 study, Kellogg School of Management Professor Lauren A. Riviera concludes that members of upper management, composed of predominantly educated upper-middle and upper-class white men and women, often hire those who prefer activities associated with people of their own backgrounds. And part of the reason management doesn’t move beyond this practice is because managers are unaware they do this.
The first step in making people aware of privilege is to talk about race in a robust way.
There are things we can do to make online conversations easier. The next time I come across a controversial article, I will post it but also put it into context. Asking my readers their opinion about the article would have opened up the conversation, not shut it down. I could have included my own anecdote to further discussion. And admitting my discomfort while expressing a desire to create change can empower everyone to come up with a positive way forward.
Christine Ristaino is a professor of Italian language and culture at Emory University.