I am privileged.

I have chosen to be blind to the title of “privileged.” I adopted a mindset that the label of “privileged” referred to someone else … to the upper-class… not myself. It doesn’t. It applies to me as a middle class WHITE person living in America.

I am part of the privileged.

Doors opened for me that did not open for others, not because I deserved more but because of my color. My color claimed rights to land that was not ours. My color asserted rights and a set of values that were false and to my benefit.My color created a culture of dominance that TO THIS DAY continues to distribute privilege and opportunity to those who look like me. And it continues to fester in so many areas of life… healthcare, jobs, education, the Church and more.

I knew this was going on and said/did nothing. My response was to preoccupy myself with protecting my world and my needs. Jesus said that when I act like this it’s like not loving Him. When you turn a blind eye (like the story of the Good Samaritan) and refuse to respond to that which you know to be the needs of another (often occurring to the least of these) you do it to Him.

I hear WHITE say because I did not directly do these racist things… that I have nothing to apologize for! That is not true. If you ever knew and felt the inequality for others, and did not respond, you stand then with the system that continues to condone it’s actions.

Day-in-and-day-out… in stores… in restaurants… in school… in ordinary conversations… by wide segments of the culture … I was never treated as if I was inferior in class. That’s because I am part of the dominant culture. And yet I have known for many years that because of the color of their skin, daily life is a constant challenge for others.I never experienced people of the culture consistently questioning my motives… a police officer doubting my story… having to educate my children about what to do when they are pulled over… or having people chase me down and believe I committed crime only because of the color of my skin. But those are often everyday events for others.

Why did I not experience these things? Because I am part of the dominant WHITE culture that treats me different than those who have. I know there is a difference… just like every other WHITE person… that there is a difference… yet I have sat back and been complacent, turning a blind-eye through my 60 years. Why? Because the benefits of the racist system far outweigh me choosing to be part of the struggle to change it.

I am wrong. And I have known this has always been wrong.

Whether you heard racist words and slurs coming from your Grandmother about the day the “colored” moved into her neighborhood (which I did) or you’ve turned a blind-eye to the system, culture and world that favors you over another…. to know something is wrong, and that it is wrong in God’s eyes… and to chose to keep living that way… that is called sin.

I mourn both my sin of blindness, the hurt, the pain and even loss of life it has meant for others. I mourn for a complicit church that continues to be part of perpetuating this. I am grieving for the hurt to friends and a culture that now convulses in pain.

I see it. I chose to see it. I chose to (finally) not look away.

Please forgive me. I am not better… smarter or more deserving… I am the same. I am equal with you and every other man and woman… all of us… together created the same… whatever our skin color, our gender, our education, our country of origin or our place in society. Each of us is the same. Each stands the same as we stand before our God… loved by Him the same… and in need of God’s mercy, forgiveness and grace.

This must starts with those who are part of the dominant culture. The WHITE. It must always first start with me. It starts with laying down the false privilege our forefathers created and our indifference has allowed to perpetuate.

I choose to live the remainder of my days with eyes that see… and ears committed to hear false and true… to follow what the Spirit is seeking to say first to us who are part of Christ’s Kingdom and the Church. I chose to see.


Terry coaches and mentors breakthrough for entrepreneurial, risk-taking leaders. He has authored several books on leadership and pioneered a variety of leadership development resources and processes with his organization, Leader Breakthru. Terry also serves as adjunct faculty at Fuller Theological Seminary.

One thought on “Privileged.

  1. Thank you, Terry, for saying this well. This is so true – we must be honest, confess our sin, choose to see things as they really are, seek to make amends where possible. I so appreciate your words of honesty.

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