White privilege was explained to me in an academic setting and in that setting I went through the reflection process noting the times when the world responded to me in a way that acknowledged my whiteness, but I couldn't really identify any startling examples of privilege until the parent of one of my student's called me for help. He asked if I could drive him and my student to the store so they could order new glasses. While I was happy to provide a ride, I was shocked by his explanation for the request. The father was concerned that he would be treated rudely or worse and that he wouldn't be able to get his son the glasses he needed. He said he knew that if I went with him, the technicians would treat me well because I was white. Of course the trip went well, just as the father predicted, but I was surprised by how the experience impacted me. I wouldn't have never guessed that I would lend someone my white privilege, but I felt some pride in the fact that the man had asked me and that he felt safe in asking me.
I continue to teach Native students and work at my relationships with their families. I'd like to think I use my privilege to advocate for them but I know that I need to gain more skills so that my voice is heard by other whites, especially the decision-makers. My emotions are not always my friend.