ArticleAnalysis: What My Bike Has Taught Me about White Privilege
Thearticle was written by Jeremy Dowsett and published in the year 2014.The main purpose of Dowsett’s article is to reveal the true meaningof the concept of “white privilege”. Dowsett believes that theidea of privilege has been misunderstood by whites as well as peopleof color. While explaining why the whites feel frustrated wheneverthis concept is mentioned, Dowsett states, “It comes from the factthat nobody wants to be a racist” (897). This statement confirmsthat the author wants to address the misconception regarding the truemeaning of the notion of the white privilege, as pointed out in thenotes. He also uses a simile “like” to state that whites shouldnot feel guilty whenever the concept of white privilege is mentioned.He states, “Because I think that this analogy might help some whitepeople understand privilege talk without feeling like they’rehaving their character attacked” (897). He expects that whites willappreciate the privilege accorded to them, but respect the people ofcolor, which is a positive reaction.
Apartfrom informing the audience about the privilege accorded to the whiteAmericans, it is evident that Dowsett wants to advocate for socialjustice. The author raises awareness about the pain that people feelwhen they realize that they are under-privileged because of the colorof their skin. He states, “I care about privilege and what it meansfor racial justice” (897). Therefore, Dowsett also played anadvocacy role in the article by promoting the idea of fair treatmentof the people of color. This role is also confirmed by the analogythat involves the comparison between the road users (car driversversus the bike rider) and the people of color verse whites. Dowsettadvocates for the respect of the rights of the minority by statingthat they are legally in the right place.
Dowsettthinks of the white Americans as his primary audience. In his essay,the author states “You are a bad person because you are white. It’ssaying the system is skewed in ways that you maybe haven’t realizedor had to think about precisely because it’s skewed in YOUR favor”(897). The word “you” suggests that the author is addressingwhite Americans. The author wants the audience to think about thetrue meaning of the notion of the white privilege. From theintroduction of the article, the author describes how most of thewhite people have been defensive. They also seem to feel frustratedwhenever the term privilege is mentioned. He intends to change thisperception by showing them that they were in the right place, justlike cars on roads that were constructed for automobiles. He uses ametaphor that compares the car drivers on the roads and whites. Healso compares the bike riders, who are the minority in Lansing, withthe people of color. He considers himself as a member of the minoritygroups whenever he is riding a bicycle. He states that he is legallyin the right place when riding on the road, but drivers still yell athim requiring him to get on the sidewalk. This metaphor indicatesthat both white and the people of color living in the same countryare in the right place. However, the white feel more privilegedbecause they are the majority. Therefore, he wants to make whitesfeel comfortable since being privileged does not mean that they areracist.
Dowsettwishes his audience to bring with them two types of attitude. First,the author would like his audience to start being considerate. Fromthe metaphor that Dowsett uses to compare the white and the driverson Lansing roads, it is evident that they fail to consider the rightsof the minority who also have the right to use the transportinfrastructure. Secondly, the author expects the audience to developtolerance. By exposing the idea that the bike riders and car drivershave the right to use the roads, the author intends to challengewhites and make them tolerate the minority groups.
Thereare two major things that Dowsett would like the audience to considerafter going through the article. First, the author wants the audienceto consider the differences between being privileged and acting as aracist. This is confirmed by the fact that he often states that beingborn a white does not imply that one is automatically a racist.Secondly, the author wants the readers to consider the feelings ofthe minority groups that are underprivileged. The author explains howhe felt after being mistreated by the majority of the road users, whoare the car drivers. This idea shows that he tries to make a pointthat the minority groups feel offended because of the mistreatmentthat they experience, and not as a result of the fact that theircounterpart whites are privileged.
Dowsettsupports an idea that the clean conscious of the white people is atstake. By refusing to subscribe to the correct meaning of the notionof the white privilege, the audience (including the whites) feelsguilty and live in fear of being labeled as racists. The authorresponds to his audience directly in several instances. He respondsto the audience directly by encouraging whites to stop feeling guiltysince being privileged does not mean that they are racists.
Thepiece is authored in the context of the struggle for equality andinclusion of all people, irrespective of their demographic features.Classification of people on the basis of the color of their skin is acontroversial issue in the U.S. It is important to know the contextbefore going through the article because it would help me read it andsee its content from the perspective of someone who is addressing acritical social issue, with the objective of identifying a solution.
Inconclusion, Dowsett’s article addresses the white people, whobehave in defensive ways for being considered as the privilegedpopulation. The defensiveness is attributed to the lack ofunderstanding of the actual meaning of the concept of the whiteprivilege.
Dowsett,J. (2014, August 29). What my bike has taught me about the whiteprivilege. Quartz.Retrieved September 14, 2016, fromhttp://theavarnagroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/What-riding-my-bike-has-taught-me-about-white-privilege-Quartz.pdf