What’s Your Privilege?

So I started to write this post a couple times..then I wrote part of it and stopped…then I wrote it and let it sit in ‘draft’ status for a while.  Why?  Because this isn’t an easy topic.  But that is the same reason why I am finally posting it, because it’s not an easy topic but it is something that needs to be discussed.
I doubt I have done the topic the justice it deserves.  And I certainly haven’t yet explored it as deeply as I would like.  But that’s ok.  I started, I said at least some of what I needed to say.  And that is a teeny tiny something.
I was raised in a middle-class family in a small town in the Midwest.  I am serious when I say that the only “minority” we were a part of was that of divorced parents (and that hardly counts because it was already becoming more and more common when my parents divorced). So I lived right there in the lap of privilege.  I lived in a small Midwest town, which is just as non-diverse as it sounds.  If I remember my graduating class correctly, I think we had 2 POC, one boy and one girl.  Otherwise, it was a total white-out.  I didn’t meet/work with/become friends with/interact with anyone that was different than me ’till after I graduated and moved out.  Needless to say, I didn’t know jack or shit about privilege or oppression or anything else.  I still didn’t know much ’till I went to college.  In college I had an amazing professor who taught a class full of white, hearing kids about privilege and how we (all of us) had been benefiting from it our entire lives.

So what is privilege?

[privuh-lij, priv-lij]

1. a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most:

Phoenix Calida, in an article she wrote on the topic, explains it this way,

“Privilege simply means that under the exact same set of circumstances your in, life would be harder without your privilege.

Being poor is hard. Being poor and disabled is harder.

Being a woman is hard. Being a trans woman is harder.

Being a white woman is hard, being a woman of color is harder.

Being a black man is hard, being a gay black man is harder.”

I have privilege  that other’s don’t. I benefit from this privilege without having done anything to earn it.
My privileges include:
-I grew up in a middle-class family
-I am still middle-class
-I am married, and therefore easily pass as straight (I am bisexual, but enjoy straight privilege such   as being able to marry my partner and never worry about the legality of our marriage being in      question)
I am able-bodied (for purposes of how privilege affects me personally, my chronic illness does not  ‘disable’ me)
-I speak English fluently (some may think this falls in with racial privilege but I believe that being  able to use English fluently affords me certain privilege)
A visual representation of privilege might look something like this (via everydayfeminism.com)
The Straight, Ablebodied, Rich, White Man’s Burden
Examining one’s own privilege is not about feeling guilty, that actually doesn’t do anyone any good. The point is not to point out our own or other’s privilege so that we can feel guilty.  The point is to acknowledge the ways in which you benefit from privilege, and to figure out how you can stop being part of the problem.  As Phoenix Calida said
“being born with privilege doesn’t make you a bad person. But using your undeserved privilege to step on or over others? That makes you a major asshole.”
Here are some ideas of ways in which you can push back against your privilege.  Learn about ways in which you can work with oppressed groups as an ally. Learn to shut up and listen. Learn how to be a proactive ally.  Learn about how you can fight racism, sexism, fat phobia, and ableism.

Comment On This Post

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s