Heather, you have shown some amazing insight, and I thank you for putting this together as you did.

Thanks for your updating comment about seeing all the predictable responses that you anticipated. I am amazed that some people, who seemed to be white guys, felt attacked by you. I never saw any comment in which you appeared to attack anyone. You were simply offering your perspective.

The section that I particularly appreciated was number 6: not being held accountable for others in your community. Now, there’s a perception I have never thought about, and I think it is particularly keen on your part.

I’m an old white guy (now 72) who has traveled to 127 countries, including every inhabited continent. I have experienced what it is like to stand out in places such as Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, where most people look nothing like me. Yet, despite the different skin color, I have always been given the preferential treatment that white people seem to get wherever we go, and that is, as you have remarked, regardless of how we dress (though I will add that I make it a point not to dress like a beach bum).

One scenario that has played out for me time and time again in places as disparate as Nairobi, Manama, Rihyad, Ho Chi Minh City, Cairo, Zurich, Tunis, you-name-it: as I have spent a lot of time walking around town all day and find that I would like to have a rest or to use the facilities, I have found that I can walk into any luxury hotel to sit in a comfortable chair in the lobby or to use the lavatory, and I have NEVER been questioned by management for being there.

I have been able to do this since long before the term “white privilege” came into use, and it was always clear to me that I was consistently afforded with respect and never questioned because of my skin color. And yet, even without that term, I knew exactly what was going on!

Many thanks, once again, for sharing your insights with us. And in the event are interested, I wrote and posted an observation that I made in Mexico City in 2016, which, I believe, is akin to what you have written:

In this case, I noticed that while the overwhelming majority of people I saw on the streets and the metro appeared to be indigenous, it was by contrast that the overwhelming majority of people whose images were used in advertising were white. If you are curious about that observation, you may read more about it here: https://jaydavidson.blogspot.com/2016/01/observations-and-unanswered-questions.html

Best to you!

Retired teacher (San Francisco, 1969–2003); Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Mauritania, 2003–2005); public speaker, artist, writer, world citizen & traveler

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