If you haven’t noticed, there are many benefits to being White in South Africa. White privilege is alive and well in this country. The fact that you didn’t ask for these advantages or that you didn’t realize you were receiving them doesn’t make the concept of White privilege untrue.
Although classism can affect the extent to which you benefit from White privilege, as in your case, you still benefit from it whether you know it or not. All Whites benefit from it, in the most basic way at the very least. But getting handouts from other Whites is only a by-product of what White privilege is really about: in general, the way Whites interact with other Whites as opposed to the way they interact with minorities. In a word, favoritism. However, this is not to say that all Whites are to blame for the discrimination, but all Whites benefit from it nonetheless.
Here are just a few examples. If a White person answers “yes” to any of these, he/she is experiencing and benefiting from White privilege:
1. My family benefited from a system that pressed others.
2. Anytime there is a crime I am not automatically a suspect because of my color
3. If there was a stop and search exercise going on, I will most likely not be asked for identification because I am white crime is not synonymous to me.
4. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
5. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
5. I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.
6. Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.
7.I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer e-mails, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race.
8. I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.
9. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having my co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race.
10. I had quality education and living conditions growing up.