I was lucky enough to live in Asia for a time, and I lived in a city where, as a white guy, I kinda stood out. I had many local friends there and it was truly a joy to hang out with them and learn about the city and country through them.
One time we were at a busy coffee place, where every customer would receive one of those little discs that vibrated and alarmed when your order was ready, indicating for you to go back to the counter to collect said order.
I’m with six or seven local friends, and we’ve all sat down after placing our orders, chatting and such when I notice a member of staff standing in front of me, holding a tray out with my drink and muffin. He hands it to me, I thank him, and he takes my disc away, which hadn’t even vibrated once.
All my other friends, locals, still had to go and collect their orders.
We all initially laughed about it, and they gave me the nickname “White Privilege” for the rest of the day, but I have to admit I was still shocked at the blatant preferential treatment I was receiving. It made me stop and think how many times this must have happened already without me noticing, like at security checkpoints (which were very common in the city I was living in) or other situations. Reading about white privilege is one thing, but seeing it explicitly happen in front of me was a real eye-opener!
I’ve since moved back to my hometown, and after telling my friends this experience, the POC have told me that while the White Privilege might be more implicit here, it’s still happening all the time. A black friend I used to work with told me that he had to provide ID every time he entered the building we worked in, whereas the security guard would often just wave me in. Blew my mind!
I’m going to try to keep my privilege on my radar now, and at least try to acknowledge it if I can’t do more.