A religious group wants everyone to try on a pair of white privilege glasses.

White privilege isn't always an easy concept to explain to someone who's lived with it their whole life.

Tim Wise, an author and antiracism educator, explains white privilege as "any advantage, opportunity, benefit, head start, or general protection from negative societal mistreatment, which persons deemed white will typically enjoy, but which others will generally not enjoy."

But what exactly does that mean? How does it work?


What if explaining white privilege were as simple as showing someone what it's like to live without it?

Chicago Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the United Church of Christ but educates future ministry leaders in 40 different faiths, wanted to find an easy way to explain white privilege. Their idea? White privilege glasses.

Yes, you read that right. Magical glasses, if you will.

Photo via Chicago Theological Seminary, used with permission.

What if folks who are accustomed to living with privilege could put on a pair of glasses that showed them life without it — in real time?

So when someone says, "Yeah, I'm not really sure about this white privilege thing..."

GIFs via Chicago Theological Seminary/YouTube.

...we could just whip out a pair of glasses!

Glasses that would show people how different the experience of simply walking down the street can be for a person of color.

And how seemingly innocuous signs can mean something entirely different.

Glasses that would make ordinary grocery store trips a little more ominous.

And police encounters disconcerting — and more dangerous.

Unfortunately, it's not quite that easy to show people their privilege. But it's inspiring to see a religious organization leading the charge against systemic racism.

Alice Hunt, president of the Chicago Theological Seminary (and who's white), told Upworthy she'd like to see religious organizations lead instead of follow when it comes to the important issues we face as a society, and she considers racism the preeminent one.

"I would like to see religious organizations say, 'We have a responsibility because of our faith in God. We are called to make the world a better place,'" she said.

And her organization isn't the only faith-based group tackling the problem head on.

Image by Phil Roeder/Flickr.

For example, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has been making an effort to recognize and confront racism, including systemic issues such as inequality in the criminal justice system.

This particular religious organization is the second-least diverse one in the country, according to recent Pew research, with 96% of its congregation being made up with white folks. And that makes the conversation particularly important.

Imagine the ripple effect if all religious organizations would engage in these talks with open minds — and subsequently navigate the world differently.

The first step toward change, Hunt says, is being willing to have these difficult conversations.

She also maintains that the responsibility to talk about privilege and racism lies with white people, not people of color, because we have the power to change it. Her organization created the white privilege glasses video, she explained, for white people who are unaware — because they've never had a reason or opportunity to be aware — to have their eyes opened.

And she dropped some cold, hard truth: "The only people who have the opportunity to think that racism doesn’t exist are white people," she stated simply.

The great news is that every single one of us can do something as individuals, and it starts by seeing our privilege for what it is. We may not have special glasses that do it for us, but that doesn't mean we can't learn to open our eyes a little wider.

You can watch the full white privilege glasses video here. It's short, but it delivers a strong, important lesson.

Photo courtesy of Claudia Romo Edelman
True

When the novel coronavirus hit the United States, life as we knew it quickly changed. As many people holed up in their homes, some essential workers had to make the impossible choice of going to work or quitting their jobs— a choice they continue to make each day.

Because over 80 percent of working Hispanic adults provide essential services for the U.S. economy, the Hispanic community is disproportionately affected. Hispanic families are also much more likely to live in multigenerational households, carrying the extra risk of infecting the most vulnerable. In fact, Hispanics are 20 times more likely than other patients to test positive for COVID-19.

Claudia Romo Edelman saw a community in desperate need of guidance and support. And she created Hispanic Star, a non-profit designed to help Hispanic people in the U.S. pull together as a proud, unified group and overcome barriers — the most pressing of which is the effects of the pandemic.

Because the Hispanic community is so diverse, unification is, and was, an enormous challenge.

Photo credit: Hispanic Star

Keep Reading Show less
via Taber Andrew Bain / Flickr

The tiniest state with the longest name may soon just be the tiniest state after November 3. Rhode Island is voting on whether to change its official name from "The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" to "The State of Rhode Island."

Lawmakers in the state would like to shorten the name because the term "plantations" has a historical connection to slavery in the United States.

This isn't the first time the state has attempted to remove "plantations" from its name. Rhode Island attempted the change ten years ago and 78% of voters opposed the idea.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo courtesy of Claudia Romo Edelman
True

When the novel coronavirus hit the United States, life as we knew it quickly changed. As many people holed up in their homes, some essential workers had to make the impossible choice of going to work or quitting their jobs— a choice they continue to make each day.

Because over 80 percent of working Hispanic adults provide essential services for the U.S. economy, the Hispanic community is disproportionately affected. Hispanic families are also much more likely to live in multigenerational households, carrying the extra risk of infecting the most vulnerable. In fact, Hispanics are 20 times more likely than other patients to test positive for COVID-19.

Claudia Romo Edelman saw a community in desperate need of guidance and support. And she created Hispanic Star, a non-profit designed to help Hispanic people in the U.S. pull together as a proud, unified group and overcome barriers — the most pressing of which is the effects of the pandemic.

Because the Hispanic community is so diverse, unification is, and was, an enormous challenge.

Photo credit: Hispanic Star

Keep Reading Show less

Electing Donald Trump to be president of the United States set an incredibly ugly example for the nation's youth.

We know how it's affected the national discourse of regular adults. But there's no denying the conduct of a president impacts how children around the world see the example being set for them. Every day for the past four years, children have been subjected to the behavior of a divisive figure that many of their parents chose to exalt to the most powerful office in the world.

Sure, adults can make excuses for him saying he's an "imperfect messenger" or that they "didn't vote for him to be reverend," but these are all just ways to rationalize voting for a man with zero character. What a message to send to children: Act awful and you'll be handsomely rewarded.

But what if you took away the "Trump" name and examined the character traits of him as an ordinary person? More specifically, what if your daughter came to you and said this was the kind of person she was planning to date? Well, one MAGA family found out and the results are funny, insightful and quite revealing about how we somehow hold our leaders to different and lower standards than we expect from ourselves in our day to day lives.

Keep Reading Show less
File:Delta Airlines - Boeing 767-300 - N185DN (Quintin Soloviev ...

Want to land yourself on a no-fly list? Refuse to wear a mask on an airplane. Delta is actually having to ban people from flights for not wearing masks. "As of this week, we've added 460 people to our no-fly list for refusing to comply with our mask requirement," Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a message to employees per CNN. The number is up from 270 people in August. It's kinda nuts that people are so against covering their nose and mouth that they're actually willing to get kicked off an airline, but here we are.

We're a good seven months in to the pandemic, so having to wear some kind of protective covering isn't new anymore. Delta flights have been requiring face masks on flights since May 4th, and has been barring rule breakers from traveling since June. Delta is also one of two major U.S. airlines that keeps the middle seat open (at least until the end of 2020).

Keep Reading Show less