I want to tell you about two examples of "white privilege" I have experienced, one very recently and one many years ago.
Just after the Rodney King incident and the subsequent race riots in Los Angeles in early 1992 we were in Los Angeles with our children for the trip of a lifetime to Disneyworld and other highlights available in that beautiful city.
We were also catching up with a pen-friend of my wife's, a Singaporean-American Jenny, her Korean-American husband Ken and their children.
We all went to a mall in a Los Angeles suburb as our children wanted to buy some American sportswear, my son wanting basketball gear.
All the boys descended on a sportswear shop while the girls visited a dress shop.
My son and I found the gear we were interested in buying but no one would serve us.
I found this odd to say the least.
• Former Whanganui police officer Rob Rattenbury writes memoir of being a cop and how family history affected attitudes
• Premium - Best of 2019: Rob Rattenbury: I was shot at twice, it's time we armed our police officers
• Premium - Rob Rattenbury: Housing problem began in the 90s
• Premium - Rob Rattenbury: Policing a tough gig, but the training was harder
The white staff stood just looking at us and saying nothing.
My mate Ken said to leave.
We walked out the shop, waited a few minutes and he said for my son and I only to go back.
We did this and got served immediately.
To my shame I did not ask why they had not served me when I was with my Asian-American friends.
I will blame cultural shock and Kiwi shyness.
I asked Ken if that happened a lot and he replied that it was the first time in that mall, a mall they go to where his family usually will get served.
Last weekend I had reason to fill our car up with petrol at a service station in Lower Hutt.
It was one of those service stations where you have to pre-pay unless the operator knows you.
They do not know me, this was my second time there.
Before I could say anything or pay the operator had opened my pump.
At the same time a young Samoan-Kiwi woman pulled up in a nice car, well-dressed and very pleasant. She had to pre-pay.
I am an older guy, one of the 70 per cent of New Zealand's population who are white.
I drive a nice car and have a nice wife, all looking nicely, comfortably middle class.
I do not consider myself privileged and never have.
I have had certain opportunities in education and training open to me but no more than most I know, including my Māori, Pasifika and Asian friends.
According to students and proponents of race theories I am assumed by people of colour to have "white privilege".
It gets worse than that, as a Pākehā male some say that I am a member of the most privileged cohort in New Zealand.
White privilege is defined as the societal privilege that benefits white people over non-white people in some societies, particularly if they are otherwise under the same social, political, or economic circumstances.
White people do not normally recognise this privilege, it is in the eyes of the beholder.
Most Pākehā, when told about this concept, are shocked and go into denial.
White privilege is said to fall out of the British Empire's colonisation of various countries and their indigenous populations from the mid-18th century.
Many indigenous people regard white as the norm to aspire to, but denied to so many. 11.5 per cent or thereabouts of the world population is defined as white, with most living in the so-called First World.
The concept of white privilege is not about envy but about colonisation, cultural isolation and denial over many years.
A social skill most of us develop as we age is self-awareness and a sense of how others may view us.
Why then do white people miss the concept that we are, by reason of skin colour only, regarded by most of the world as privileged?
Most people would deny racism and nowadays they are hopefully doing their best not to be racist but we all have unconscious bias, the look, the sly comment, body language, listening to friends run down others based on their cultural or racial grouping without correcting them, even agreeing with them so we fit in.
What do whites do?
Never feel guilty.
Learn about the concept of "white privilege" and understand its origins and effects.
Because whites are regarded as privileged by most of the world they must accept the coupled responsibility accompanying such judged privilege to become better at understanding cultural and racial differences, to not judge others based on skin colour or ethnicity, to try to learn about other cultures, especially, in New Zealand's case, our Māori culture.
Adult New Zealanders should find time to read some decent history books about our country and its colonisation by the British.
The children are learning, it is time we all did.
"Ignorance is curable, stupid is forever." – Robert A Heinlein.