Only when you are aware of your privilege, acknowledge it and the consequences of the lack of said privilege on others, can you put yours to good use.
This is the story of Theresa Bossert.
Once upon a time I proposed an admin workshop for my partner organizations to run concurrently with HTS training that we were mandated to do for our HCBC cadres. It got hijacked and we ended up having to travel to 5 venues in 5 weeks and boy was this stressful!
I remember how we were told that there was no accommodation for Mnakile and I at Mariatrost (Mashishing) & Ave Maria (Tzaneen) but they had reserved a place for Theresa. I had done the bookings myself and made sure that deposits were paid but I couldn’t be accommodated.
Theresa had her standard response “if you don’t have a place for my colleagues to sleep, I am also not staying”. She literally had to threaten them to give us rooms, which were there of course.
We stopped at Harry’s pancakes on our way to Mashishing and the waiters wouldn’t talk to us. She had to order on our behalf and they told her that she was very kind and good for taking her helpers out to lunch. She tried to explain that she was not our boss, to no avail.
The same happened when we stopped at Sunland Baobab, and she began to ask us how we are navigating this life of white people’s assumptions of us and we advised her to keep her ears and eyes open at all times, especially at work.
It was like the curtain was suddenly pulled back and she could see clearly what we were subjected to, simply because we are black.
When we went back to the office, our lunch claims were rejected but hers paid in full, no questions asked. She took our rejected claims and resubmitted them under her name, lo and behold they were paid. For the rest of our country-wide 5 weeks training marathon, she assumed that responsibility of submitting claims for us. Now that’s what I call using your white privilege to help black people.
If the privileged were to spend enough time with us look at life objectively without making excuses for the disparities, we can turn the tide on racism. She later confessed to us about all the things that white kids are taught about black people.