"White privilege doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been hard. It just means the color of your skin isn’t one of the things that makes it harder."

By Nick Romano
June 03, 2020 at 09:25 AM EDT
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After trashing President Trump for his actions surrounding the George Floyd protests, Jimmy Kimmel took time out of his monologue on Tuesday night to recognize his own white privilege and explain what it is to white people watching his show at home.

"Over the past week, I’ve been hearing, I've been reading very thoughtful posts and words from very smart people, some of whom say white people shouldn’t be talking right now, they should be listening. And I get that," he said. "And I don’t disagree with that. But I’m the only one here and it’s a talk show. So, I want to share what I've been thinking about and trying to sort through."

Kimmel explained how he's been living with a wrong definition of "white privilege," which is something he often associated with people like Trump and not himself. “I know that a lot of white people bristle when they hear the word ‘privilege,’ as in ‘white privilege,’ because there are millions of white people who didn't grow up with money, or a good education, or a solid family background, or maybe even a family at all," he said. "So when they hear the word 'privilege,' they go, 'What privilege? ... You hear the phrase 'white privilege' and it's easy to get defensive. The first time I heard it, I did. To me, white privilege was what Donald Trump had, a wealthy father and a silver spoon in his mouth. It wasn’t what I grew up with, so I rejected it because I didn’t understand what white privilege meant. But I think I do now. I think I at least understand some of it."

White people "don’t have to deal with negative assumptions being made about us based on the color of our skin," he continued. "It rarely happens, if ever, whereas black people experience that every day. And please don’t tell me you don’t ever make assumptions about people based on the color of their skin, because I just don’t believe it. We all do. I know I have. I’m embarrassed to say it, but I have."

He then asked his audience to imagine the frustration of "to prove yourself to be something other than what people assume you probably are," the frustration of being "handcuffed or frisked or pulled over just because you’re black," and the fear of being "brutalized and killed." Kimmel referenced a video making the rounds online of a group of good samaritans flagging down police officers to stop looters from damaging a storefront only to have themselves be arrested.

"I read something last night that I think makes a lot of sense," Kimmel concluded. "It's this: ‘White privilege doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been hard. It just means the color of your skin isn’t one of the things that makes it harder.’ Wherever you stand, I don’t see how you can argue with that.”

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
  • ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.
  • National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.

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Jimmy Kimmel Live (TV Show)

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