The kind of privilege that can be hardest to notice is the inherent kind, that always surrounds you. For example, if you grow up wealthy, you could grow up and live a life that rarely truly glimpses — let alone experiences — what it is like to live a life barely getting by (if that). You never really understand the advantages it brings because the circles you run in have those same advantages.
That’s how Kyle Korver felt about white privilege.
That despite playing in an NBA that is majority black. That despite being a friend and teammate of Thabo Sefolosha, a player who had his leg broken during an arrest by the NYPD (Sefolosha won a $4 million settlement from the New York police, a large part of which he donated to a program that helps train public defenders).
Korver said the recent issues with Russell Westbrook in Utah opened his eyes. Korver wrote about it in a very personal way for the Players’ Tribune in a must-read story.
There’s an elephant in the room that I’ve been thinking about a lot over these last few weeks. It’s the fact that, demographically, if we’re being honest: I have more in common with the fans in the crowd at your average NBA game than I have with the players on the court.
And after the events in Salt Lake City last month, and as we’ve been discussing them since, I’ve really started to recognize the role those demographics play in my privilege. It’s like — I may be Thabo’s friend, or Ekpe’s teammate, or Russ’s colleague; I may work with those guys. And I absolutely 100% stand with them.
But I look like the other guy.
And whether I like it or not? I’m beginning to understand how that means something…
“How can I — as a white man, part of this systemic problem — become part of the solution when it comes to racism in my workplace? In my community? In this country?”
My summary of what Korver said cannot do it justice, not to the depth or the nuance. Just go read it.
Sometimes people can be slow to recognize the advantages they inherently have. I am certainly in that group.
The only way we as a nation can move past some of these issues starts with a frank and honest discussion. One that is not easy to have and will lead to a backlash from some quarters. Progress is never painless (and never linear). Korver’s piece is the kind of honesty, thoughtfulness, and self-reflection we need more of as a nation.