In recent letters to the editor, it is apparent that many letter writers in this town cannot seem to grasp the meaning of terms like "Black Lives Matter" and "white privilege." As a fellow white guy in Bakersfield, I would like to try to help them in their educational quest, by explaining what I have understood those terms to mean.
Starting with the term "Black Lives Matter," many spokespeople from the movement have explained that the easiest way to define it is to simply add the word "too" to the end of the phrase ("Black Lives Matter, too"). In other words, emphasizing that black lives matter is essential, since white lives have always mattered throughout this nation's history. Unfortunately, black people have not enjoyed that same luxury. This as a result of 250 years of slavery, followed by "convict leasing"; 100 years of Jim Crow laws; red-lining; discrimination in housing, education and employment opportunities; Nixon's/Reagan's "War on Drugs" that was nefariously aimed at incarcerating and disenfranchising entire communities of color; and rampant cases of police brutality against unarmed black people for completely frivolous offenses — just to name a few racial setbacks.
Now, for the term of "white privilege," it does not mean that we, as white folk, necessarily led a life of privilege; it just means that the color of our skin was never used to discriminate against us in the ways described above.
For more information on this topic, I highly recommend the viewing of the documentary "13th" available on Netflix.
Richard Thesken, Bakersfield