27 Nov 2012

What is white passing privilege?


White passing privilege is CONDITIONAL partial or full white privilege provided to CERTAIN members of usually oppressed racial and ethnic groups because their looks dictate that they be aligned with the party in power, white people. The condition of maintaining the privilege is simple; whether or not white people feel like providing it. 

White passing privilege is NOT given to oneself, and whether one has passing privilege is not one’s own decision.

This essentially means that while in some cases, revealing one’s heritage may result in the elimination of privilege, in others, it may not.

There is one thing absolutely true of white passing privilege: to the people in power, you are one of them. In that situation, where it concerns non-passing PoC, you function as a white body; one that receives and exerts white privilege.

You might think “that sucks, I didn’t ask for my face”. Well…that’s a nice sentiment, but non-passing PoC didn’t ask for theirs, either.

Any and every group of PoC can contain white passing people. Some groups, thanks to colonization, contain many, many more proportionately than others.

We all understand that PoC can align themselves with white supremacist values. It therefore follows that white passing PoC can do the same, but there is a stark difference:

White passing PoC have a measure of power. When that measure of power meets white supremacist values, it is functionally indistinguishable from a regular white person taking the same action.

Why is that?

Remember what white passing privilege is and who it is provided by. As long as white people function under the idea that you are one of them, they will treat you as such. That includes stomping on PoC for your benefit. That may involve going out of their way to stomp on PoC for your benefit, and you don’t even need to uphold white supremacist values for that to happen.

White passing PoC share in this. Because of that, they MUST relinquish control of general PoC discussions to non-passing PoC or risk exercising whiteness over them, the power of which to do so is provided to them by white people.

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