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'White privilege' is not something to feel guilty about. Here's what it does mean.

On some level, we can all agree that things aren't exactly where we'd like them to be.

'White privilege' is not something to feel guilty about. Here's what it does mean.

Does the idea of "white privilege" make you uncomfortable? Angry? Guilty? Attacked? I don't blame you.

It's a hard thing to get your head around, and it feels kind of ... well ... accusatory. But the idea of white privilege isn't itself a bad or good thing; it's just telling us how it is.

And it's broken.


Let's explore an example about how racial inequity in our society is 100% real.


The U.S. Census Bureau decided to examine how wealth* was distributed across race and income. When they looked at the median net worth by race, here's what they found:

That's right, there's massive economic disparity across races at every income level.

And for the poorest of the poor, you can't even see them on the graph. We have to zoom in.

And zoom in EVEN MORE.

Remember, the median net worth for the poorest white household? It was $24,000. The discrepancy is so wide and so real that it is clear society somehow favors those who identify as white.

Something about the way our current system is functioning is not making up for how terribly our past system treated people of color. And that is what white privilege is about.

White privilege is a REAL thing, but it's not a BAD thing.

If life is a race, white people have been running for over 400 years, and black people just started running 50 years ago — and we just got shoes, like, 15 years ago. White people have distinct advantages in life over people of color because of structural racism, discrimination, and disenfranchisement both past and present.

This is not something to feel guilty about, but it is something to act on. Guilt is not productive. But conscious awareness is. White people should not feel guilty about the discrimination of the past but should feel compelled to help correct the inequalities of the present.

Racism still exists, and "colorblindness" makes it worse.

Racism has not disappeared from the country because we have a black president. People of color deal with discrimination on a daily basis, sometimes in small ways (like feeling uncomfortable in a store) and sometimes in big ways (getting killed by a cop despite not being a lethal threat).

The only way to make racism disappear is not to ignore it through “colorblindness" but to actively fight it — in your own mind and the people you know. No real problems have ever been solved by ignoring them. You're much more likely to fall on your face if you're unwilling to look for pitfalls.

Good people do racist things.

When Joe Biden called Barack Obama "articulate," it was kind of racist. But Joe Biden isn't a racist person. He just lets dumb stuff fall out of his face hole sometimes. The word "racist" is loaded because it immediately subjects the accused to shame. Unfortunately, we don't have too many alternatives. I wish we did.

Try to resist the urge to get defensive and listen to the person's arguments with an open mind. They didn't say you were racist. They said that thing you just said was racist. If the arguments make sense to you, change the behavior and move on with your life. Consider it a free self-betterment seminar. If you don't agree, consider changing the behavior anyway if it is feasible to do so. Can't hurt to err on the side of not hurting someone.

The first step — the very first step — is acknowledging that the system is broken. It's also the easiest.

We know that mammals feed their young with milk from their own bodies, and we know that whales are mammals. But the logistics of how some whales make breastfeeding happen has been a bit of a mystery for scientists. Such has been the case with sperm whales.

Sperm whales are uniquely shaped, with humongous, block-shaped heads that house the largest brains in the animal world. Like other cetaceans, sperm whale babies rely on their mother's milk for sustenance in their first year or two. And also like other cetaceans, a sperm whale mama's nipple is inverted—it doesn't stick out from her body like many mammals, but rather is hidden inside a mammary slit.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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