Where the World is White & Privileged: Being Black in Alaska

There is freedom in living in a place where the worst thing to be, isn’t being Black.

In Alaska, less than 3.6 percent of Blacks make up the state’s entire population. At my college, Blacks are less than 2 percent.

The largest minority group here is Alaska Natives–making up approximately 15 percent of the population.

Here, the biggest stereotype of Alaska Natives is that they are all alcoholics because it is in their genes–that alcoholism, is just a part of who they are. Other stereotypes are that Native women are loose women, that Natives aren’t hard workers and that they’re bad people.

All of this–regardless of the research–which has shown that Alaska Natives and Native Americans are the ethnic group that is most likely to participate in abstinence. State statistics have shown that violence against Alaska Native women are almost 3 times the national average. In terms of the top 10 employers in Alaska, Alaskan Native corporations or businesses make up a little over half of that.

I’m serious.

But these biases are so strong that little research has been done on Alaska Natives. Therefore, everything from laws to healthcare policies are not in their favor. Most research studies have focused on the White population, with most of the participants being White undergraduate males. This has created a current cultural climate in which the odds are simultaneously in their favor and against them.

It was only this year that the first research study that focused specifically on Alaska Natives and preventative alcohol treatments was conducted.

I’m still serious.

Living in Alaska, I have been granted the privilege to not worry about my culture surviving in the ever increasing presence of a Westernized world.

Here, I am just another minority–nothing more, nothing less. I don’t have to worry about the doctors accusing me of being an alcoholic after complaining of headaches my freshman year of college. I don’t have to have to worry about people calling me an Eskimo while doing a service trip in Florida. I’m just a witness to these events.

I am embarrassed to say that I don’t know any Alaska Native languages -despite one of my majors being Foreign Languages. I have never been to any of the villages nor have I taken a class on Alaska Native studies.

Privilege is everything.

The world is filled with it–you’ll find it in even the poorest places on Earth. So here’s to finding a bit more perspective. They are uniquely intertwined–but if taken seriously and practiced genuinely–they have the power the change decades of injustice.

Justice is an inalienable right. Change is inevitable.

However the rate of change, is solely dependent on each and every individual who seeks it.

Move forward. The world will follow.

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