As a white person, I have benefited from my color and presumed privilege. I was unaware of it as I grew up and began my professional life. Now I am conscious of it and grieve that I may have had opportunities or been given the benefit of the doubt when my siblings of color did not.
Part of my own understanding of this came about when I was doing an internship in a majority Muslim country in the Middle east. As a woman who was non-Muslim, I was not the sort of person many people in that country interacted with. They made assumptions about me that were not founded in who I was. They were simply assumptions based upon my non-Muslim status and based upon the fact that I was a woman who was unaccompanied by a man nor did I wear hijab. These were not necessarily mean-spirited assumptions, they were simply incorrect assumptions. How much more painful then, for people of color in the US to be burdened with others' assumptions that are mean-spirited, limiting, hurtful, potentially deadly?