Finally, White People Are Starting to Get It

In wake of Trayvon, there's a greater awareness of 'white privilege': Eric Liu

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 17, 2013 1:55 PM CDT

(Newser) – Remember the hoodies? After Trayvon Martin was killed, people of all races donned them to declare "I am Trayvon Martin." It was well-meaning but off base, writes Eric Liu at Time. The hoodie was irrelevant; it was only Trayvon's race that mattered. Now, in the aftermath of George Zimmerman's trial, Liu is cheered to see a different meme: White people declaring that "I am not Trayvon Martin"—acknowledging that they get all kinds of breaks simply because they're white.

It's not so much about empathy as "about owning up to the unequal privilege of being non-black and saying, in essence, 'I Am George Zimmerman,'" writes Liu. "And because I am George Zimmerman, I get to have my fears trump reality. I get get-out-of-jail-free cards. I get a presumption of innocent victimhood, no matter what my own acts or attitudes." Minorities can chafe about the unfairness of the current system, but it won't change until white people step up, and that finally might be happening. "It's become possible to imagine a day when that structure of privilege is dismantled—by white people." Click for Liu's full column.

A demonstrator holds up a sign as he attends a vigil for Trayvon Martin in Miami.
A demonstrator holds up a sign as he attends a vigil for Trayvon Martin in Miami.   (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
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