Archived Story

Speaker: White privilege present in area

Published 11:40am Wednesday, March 6, 2013

White people have certain advantages over people of color, and Amy Buck wants people to discuss it. A talk on White Privilege drew about 40 people to the Pelican Rapids Library Tuesday night.

“I don’t want to offend people,” Buck said. “However, I do think that there needs to be more acknowledgement and education about what white privilege is before our community can get to a point where we say that we embrace all cultures.”

So what is white privilege?

“It is the unearned advantages of being white,” Buck said. “The weird thing is it is so ingrained in our society and institutions. If a white person walks into Kmart at the same time as an African American mom who would be followed by security?”

As a Korean growing up in a white family in Minnesota, Buck has first-hand experience of what it means to be not white in the United States. She has been the Coordinator of the Multidistrict Cultural Collaborative in the Otter Tail County school district, based out of Pelican Rapids, since the beginning of the school year. Her ethnicity has been an asset to her in that job.

“Some people in our community say they embrace cultural diversity but send their kids to school in DL or Fergus claiming there are more opportunities,” Buck said. “The most important thing for me as a mother is that my son is prepared for a 21st century world and that looks a lot more like Pelican Rapids. I love Pelican Rapids because of the diversity factor.”

While Buck’s definition of diversity expands beyond skin color, it’s a good starting point for some meaningful conversations. The first step Buck recommends is acknowledging white privilege is a reality. She cites another example from our media. In two news stories on the same topic with similar photos the captions are much different:

“A young [black] man walks through chest deep floodwater after looting a grocery store in New Orleans.”

The second:

“Two [white] residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store after Hurricane Katrina came through the area in New Orleans.”

“I am by no means an expert on the topic of white privilege, but I believe that we need to be aware and we need to be educated, and that by doing so, we will be able to relate to and teach our students in bold, progressive new ways.” Buck said. “Inevitably every child under the age of 18 will someday have to work next to, study next to, collaborate with, engage in conversation with, or come in to close contact with a person who may be of a different skin color, socio-economic status, or sexual orientation than they are used to or comfortable with. We must take steps to increase awareness and knowledge, starting with honest, multicultural dialogue.”

  • Frizzel

    I remember being followed around Kmart when I was a kid back in the 80′s. I’m white. I get what they’re saying but minorities aren’t the only ones being followed around. We used to make it a game of hide and seek. Some of us would be decoys and the rest of us would sneak up behind the person following us and scare the bejeebers out of them. It was a good time! Minorities should try it sometime.

  • HowardRLewis

    Frizzel Boscoe makes the reality of “white privilege” a joke or a game. It is not. Having travelled in China and Japan as a white person, I gained a real understanding of what ‘looking different’ really meant. As a former educator in Australia, Japan, inner city St. Paul, and rural Minnesota, I have come across ignorance from people of all colors. Ms Buck wants us to be educated about the realities of our world. We need to pay attention.

    • Frizzel

      Sometimes its fun to mess with people that are messing with you in a non-violent way. Harmless fun that others should try. What this does is make the person feel like an idiot. Again, I get what she’s trying to do and I do applaud her but sometimes its OK to have some fun w/ it. I’m sorry I’m not as Global as you Mr. Lewis, but you mentioning that you are an “educator” gives me that feeling of arrogance from you. You know, the “I’m smarter than you so be quiet” syndrome that a lot of educators get. Remove the stick outta your rear and get a sense of humor. If the rest of the world could learn humor, we’d all be better off. I mean I’ve traveled too. Mexico and even CANADA! Yep, idiots show on all sides. You are right.

  • Walt Henry

    When I retired I applied over 50 times for a part time seasonal non-profit golf course. 50 rejections without an offer. Then I listed the Chairman of the Board on the governing council of the organization as a reference (it pays to have sons who played little league baseball together) and got three offers within minutes.
    Sometimes we see discrimination where something else exists. That said the belief we can do even simple things like get a job without the help of others, regardless of color, is a mistake. We are all in this together.

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