Gonna be a few blog posts today. Links on Twitter were coming in yesterday pretty fast, and I got to the point where my browser was scrolling tabs off the side because I was trying to save stuff that I wanted to talk about. Eventually, I got this pared down a bit.
This first post is short because I want to point you to an excellent summary on privilege, and what does and doesn’t qualify as privilege.
I have a unique postion on privilege, being that during my twenties, I was given privileges that I had never been allowed to have in my teens or formative years. Like most folks who have privilege, it was often hard to see when I was exercising or defending it. But it can honestly be said that loss of that privilege was one of my major concerns before I transitioned.
I’ve learned since then that the most common response to someone calling out privilege is shunning by those who are privileged. This is because most people live with the vain idea that they’re really, “good people,” and so any evidence to the contrary must be ignored. Or to borrow a line from a song, “I see all good people turn their heads to stay so satisfied.”
The thing is, it is possible to lose some privilege, and yet still retain it in other areas. Consider how being perceived as a fully white person, I get to have privilege over trans POC. My personal narrative can, if I choose, take precedence over the voices of trans people who are suffering worse atrocities than I do, or ever have in the past. And while I had it pretty rough, I also understand from constant reading online that I still got off light.
Which is why I try to point out that privilege isn’t something as simple as being in one boxed category or another. A black man may not have white privilege, but among his own community, he still has male privilege. A white woman won’t have male privilege, but she will have white privilege. And so on and so forth.
And, as the article says, just having a privilege doesn’t make you bad. It’s what you choose to do with your privilege that defines your goodness, or lack thereof. Which is why it’s important for people to acknowledge which forms of privilege they’ve been given. Because ignorance of one’s status, whether intentional or not, can lead to people committing terrible atrocities against others without any sense of remorse.
We all need to be aware of this, regardless of our positions in life. Which is why it’s just as important to discuss privilege as it is to talk about gender, sex, and race. These issues will not go away just because the moral majority wishes it would. We have to talk about these problems, or these wounds in our societies will remain festering, resulting time and again in outbreaks of racism, sexism, and ableism.
So, take a minute or two to think about who you are, and what privileges you have. Then take a few more minutes to look at other people and compare their experiences to yours. This is the only way we can learn and overcome these challenges.