If you are white it can be difficult to see the privilege you have been born into — simply because you’re in it.

The most important thing to understand about white privilege is to understand what it’s not. Privilege is not the same as wealth. When we hear the word “privilege” we automatically think of pampered rich people who live lives of ease and extravagance, and that’s simply not the experience of all white South Africans.

Many white people come from working-class or middle-class families that have had to work hard for what they have. So when we hear the words “white privilege”, we become defensive because we think our hardships and hard work are being dismissed. But the word privilege has nothing to do with wealth. It simply refers to some advantage or immunity that only a certain group get to enjoy.

My mom grew up dirt poor. She was one of eight children; her father lost his leg fighting in the Second World War and the family had to get by on a meagre government disability pension. My dad was the son of Irish immigrants who arrived in this country with absolutely nothing. They worked themselves out of poverty, and I’m sure they would have argued that they were never given a hand up or handout……more