Hashtag Sheds Light on a Special Privilege

July 11th 2016

Aimee Kuvadia

A trending hashtag is calling out white privilege again.

Twitter user Matt Edelstein (@Shoq), resurrected the hashtag #WhitePrivilegeMeans following the police killings of three black men — Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and Alva Braziel — to spark discussion about the benefits that come with living as a white person in America, Blavity reports. Blavity and Mic had incorrectly reported earlier Monday that the trending hashtag was started by @CESchulz.

People in cities across the U.S. are protesting these deaths, while others are using social media to express their discontent with what they consider to be systemic racism at the hands of law enforcement.

Some examples:

Several Twitter users pointed to former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, who was handed down a sentence of six months in county jail and probation after he was convicted of sexual assault, as an example of white privilege.

Others brought up how police treated Charleston, South Carolina, shooter Dylann Roof, who killed nine black people in a church. Police officers apparently bought Roof a meal from Burger King after he said he was hungry in custody, Shelby Police Chief Jeff Ledford told The Charlotte Observer.

Dylann Roof Arrested

The hashtag was also used to call out what is seen as media bias and the perpetuation of stereotypes.

Twitter users pointed out the different images used to illustrate crime stories — mug shots versus everyday photos.

Part of the conversation regarding white privilege includes discussion of the National Rifle Association, the largest gun lobbying group in the United States. After police shot and killed a black man, who reportedly had a gun in his possession, the NRA didn't respond until a few days after the fact.

Musician John Legend also pointed that out.

However, a few users missed the point altogether. And it's no wonder — 49 percent of Americans believe reverse racism is as serious a problem as discrimination against people of color, according to the Public Religion Institute.

Update: 7/11 4:27 p.m. PST: This story was updated to include where the hashtag originated from and how it was incorrectly attributed to another Twitter user.