Our society has come a long way on the racism front, particularly in the past fifty years, but American still has a ways to go.
“White privilege” is a term I first heard only a few years ago, and I’ve scoured websites to understand what it means. For readers as unfamiliar with the term as I was, read “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” by Peggy McIntosh. The article has helped me understand that simply by virtue of being white in a white-majority country, I enjoy benefits I’m not even aware of. In the aftermath of cases like Trayvon Martin’s, some of us whites are starting to get it. There is progress, albeit slow.
Brown says that the antidote to shame is empathy. When we strive to imagine how life is for others, when we listen and say, “I’m sorry,” the curtain of shame begins to lift. If we want it to lift even faster, we need to recognize privilege, own it, and talk about it. She’s says that “Jungian analysts call shame the swampland of the soul,” and she suggests that all of us will benefit from putting on some galoshes, and mucking around in it for a bit.