Road sign that says Racist

You’re a racist

Actually, no.  What I said is that you are privileged.

Privilege is not the same as racism, it is something we are born with.  Many people who hear themselves described as privileged immediately think that they are being called a racist because it’s often associated with the colour of our skin. This is incorrect, we can have privilege regardless of our skin colour, but a lot of privilege does stem from the colour of our skin.


Someone who believes that their race makes them better, more intelligent, more moral, etc. than people of other races and who does or says unfair or harmful things as a result.

If we believe we are better than someone as a result of their race then we are racist.  We are not born racist, but we can be influenced to become racist.

Avoiding conversations about race, won’t make the discomfort go away.  It’s important that we are able to assess our emotional responses when we hear things that we don’t fully understand or agree with.

"Privilege is when you think something is not a problem because it's not a problem to you personally"

If we are privileged, we have had a head start in some areas of life and will not have had to fight for certain things.  That isn’t to say that we haven’t worked hard to be where we are, but there will always be people who have had to work twice as hard to achieve the same result.

We need to understand more about our privilege and to be more self-aware when commenting on events.  If we are in a position of power to implement change, being aware of our privilege is vital as we make decisions that have a socio-economic impact.


This short video explains privilege, class and social inequalities in the race to win a $100:



  1. A right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed by a particular person or a restricted group of people beyond the advantages of most: the privileges of the very rich.

  2. The unearned and mostly unacknowledged societal advantage that a restricted group of people has over another group:white privilege based on skin color; male privilege; children of privilege.

We can also be privileged based on our body size.  Thin Privilege is the privilege of having our medical symptoms listened to rather than being prescribed weight loss. Some people are thin as a result of their genetics and their metabolism, others not so much. Some people may not eat healthily because of a limited budget and restricted access to cooking facilities.

Check your privilege bingo card

How did you score?  To many, the epitome of privilege is a white middle-aged male.  Why not white women?  White women are not far behind white men, but we still require laws on gender pay gaps and it is still unusual to see women in powerful roles traditionally associated with men.

White privilege can lead to us to being racist but doesn’t mean we automatically are.

In this short video, Trevor Noah breaks down reparations & white privilege.  He is talking about black Americans but the same applies in the UK:

What has this got to do with records management or privacy?

You might wonder why I’m writing about racism and privilege when  I usually talk about records management or information governance. It’s as a result of the WhatsApp/Facebook vs Signal debates that are going on.

In the last week, I’ve had lots of conversations about ‘The Great WhatsApp Escape’.  Many people I spoke with shared my concerns about the changes to WhatsApp, however, three people didn’t see any reason to move from WhatsApp to Signal.  Interestingly, these three people were all white, middle-aged males.   I wonder if their confidence that the WhatApp changes are of little consequence, is to do with the privilege that society affords them?  And actually, they’re right.  They probably won’t feel any effects personally.  But what about those people in less privileged positions? The people who live in countries with less stringent privacy laws?  We need to step away from our privilege and consider the effect on others.

The proposed WhatsApp change has been postponed from 8th February to 15th May. It’s not being cancelled or amended, simply pushed back. From a professional point of view, I still strongly recommend that you delete your app at the earliest opportunity and switch to an alternative such as Signal, Threema or Wckr.

Unethical, but not illegal or racist

What Facebook Messenger is doing is not necessarily illegal, but I believe it’s unethical.  Facebook made a business decision to buy Whatsapp, which is free to download and use for a reason.  How are they going to make that money back? The obvious answer is data.

When we use a free app, what we’re actually doing is ‘paying’ for its use with our rights and freedoms. “But it doesn’t affect the UK and EU yet” I hear you cry!  Wrong. They are pushing out the need to accept those terms and conditions regardless of location.

There are so many questions to be asked because, despite EU GDPR and UK GDPR,  Facebook continues to associate certain types of metadata with individuals.  They don’t need to read the content of our messages because, with enough metadata, content becomes irrelevant.

Did you know that people are killed based on metadata?

And it’s not just metadata that is available.  Although the text is encrypted. the images we send are not.

In this Forbes article from the 3rd January 21, Zak writes about what data is linked to you regardless of whether you’re in the UK, EU or not. This taking and selling of your data are not new and they are trying to add WhatsApp to what they already have.


Source: Zak Doffman, Forbes

Facebook introduced the “People you might know” feature a few years ago. In doing so, it started outing sex workers and people who were LGBTQ+ and not currently out to their families. It also puts people under witness protection or escaping domestic abuse at risk.  From a position of privilege, it’s harder to understand how privacy-intrusive tech can harm others who don’t share the protection and advantages we enjoy.

Is your Right to Privacy under threat?

This is not just about the security of data. The privacy of individuals is at stake. The right to privacy, as given by Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, is forever under threat and we need to stand with the people who are affected by bad data decisions that make their lives harder. Our privacy may not be at threat right now because of our privilege but others are at risk. The more data that is profiled the more it widens the privilege gap.

If we can’t think of a person who is at risk, we need to broaden our mindset and think about people outside our immediate circle of friends and family. Think about other people with different soci0-economic backgrounds.

Take every word from the bingo above and ask yourself why the opposites of the words listed are not privileged.  If you don’t know the answer, there are plenty of resources available to help us learn more.

So, WhatsApp or Signal?

I wholeheartedly endorse moving to Signal and deleting Whatsapp (and Facebook Messenger whilst you’re at it). Every person that deletes WhatsApp results in fewer people being affected by whatever change Facebook make to any of their policies.

The thing about Signal is they don’t collect any of your data, by default it’s stored on your device and no one else has access to it unless they have access to your device.  There is no downside to Signal (except for the fact they’ve gained 30 million users over the last few days and as a result Signal fell over – but they are consistent with their communications and it’s been resolved).

Oh, and for what it’s worth, you’re not a racist.


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You’re a racist
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