How To Talk To The Dishwasher Repairman About White Privilege

Tara Lyn Mallick
6 min readOct 18, 2020
Photo by James Eades on Unsplash

First step: Get yourself a broken dishwasher.

Second step: Make sure the repairman brings up the presidential debate and says that both sides are liars. Start getting sweaty.

Third step: Start sweating A LOT when he blurts out, “Lemme ask ya something. What do you think about white privilege?”

Oh, boy. How much time does it take to fix a dishwasher?

After telling myself not to panic, I told him that it’s a real thing. White privilege is real.

He clasped his hands, shook his head and said, “Oh, I disagree.”

Oh, boy. Here we go.

He gave me the whole story: he grew up poor, he wasn’t given anything, he had to work hard. His life wasn’t any different from anyone else’s and, in fact, he had it harder than most people.

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You know, the story that every white person gives.

I told him that I appreciated what he’s been through. I lived in a trailer when I was little. I got a job when I was 15 and paid for all my own shit. My first car was $175 (shout out to the old Chevette!). I paid $46,000 for my education without help from my parents (shout out to student loan debt!).

As people, though, we benefit from our skin color. Again, he smiled and shook his head.

Then I gave him the analogy that’s been used to explain white privilege time and time again:

“Imagine a Black man on a bike. He’s pedaling and pedaling and the wind is pushing against him. It’s harder for him to propel himself forward because the wind is holding him back. Now imagine a white guy on a bike with the wind behind his back, propelling him forward. The wind allows him to pedal without much effort. That wind is white privilege. The white privilege is the unseen force lifting you up, whether you realize it or not.”

I could tell he had never heard this before. Were his wheels turning?

I went through a list of ways that white people can benefit from being, well, white:

  • White people can drive around with expired tabs without having to worry…

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Tara Lyn Mallick

Top writer in #race and #blacklivesmatter | The Startup | Noteworthy | Social worker | Book lover