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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.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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