Her status as a 2nd generation immigrant also #YouAintBlack Joe Biden shirt informs my understanding of race relations in this country. Institutionalized racism is a social inheritance, not a familial inheritance. Her ancestors weren’t slaves here, didn’t suffer through reconstruction or Jim Crow or any of it. Her parents still inherited all that baggage when they moved here because their skin color resembles the skin color of those who did. Social inheritance is a way of framing institutionalized racism that made it easier for me to understand my own privilege as a white man. I could honestly go on like this for a good while longer, but you probably get the idea. Having a person I am very much in love with come from outside my bubble has made me a more thoughtful person, especially when it comes to race.
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I undeniably benefit from the system as it is #YouAintBlack Joe Biden shirt, but that doesn’t mean I sought those benefits or built this system; I inherited them, not because of my own or my ancestor’s actions but in the same way that her family inherited all the negative baggage. This framing helps a lot to circumvent the knee-jerk defensiveness that comes with interpreting privilege as an accusation, which helps to acknowledge and confront it. It’s a small twist that drives home how arbitrary and artificial yet pervasive racial constructs really are in this country.