It has been a while since I have made a blog post because my heart and mind have been consumed in the recent happenings around the country concerning police brutality and the black lives matter movement. There is no blog post I can write that will say anything different from what many of my black brothers and sisters have been feeling, so I have avoided those topics, however, I did want to take an opportunity to make one about privilege. As activists, organizers, and protestors, we usually can very easily call out White Privilege and thoroughly explain how it applies to every situation. I think it is also important that we remember our own privilege in the process. When I took the time to think about each privilege I have, I had to fight the urge to reject each one. I think black women continue to be the most rejected and disrespected people in the U.S. However, in order to understand the experiences of others and to continue to effectively explain how White Privilege works, I needed some self-reflection.
1) Able-Bodied Privilege
I have no mental or physical disabilities that affect my quality of life. Disabled people live in a society where they must constantly be on the lookout for ADA compliance. This is one privilege that I realize can be taken away at any moment.
I acknowledge that as a person without a disability, I do not have to worry about buildings I go into being able to accommodate me, purchases I make being able to work for me, or people I interact with being able to accept me and adjust their interactions with me based on a disability.
2) Income Privilege
This one was tricky for me. I grew up in a single parent home. My mother was always able to put food on the table and provide everything I needed. We also went through rough patches. We struggled financially; couch surfed for a few years, and could not always make ends meet. Fast forward through college, my relationship with my father, who is middle class, improved greatly. After graduation, I was able to move in with him and now live rent-free. I consider this a privilege because I was born with my father, although I did not always live with him. I won’t go too in depth with this one because it’s pretty obvious how having more financial freedom can help you in society.
3) Cisgender Privilege
This simply means that I identify with the gender that is expected of me. Because I am female (the sex), I identify with being a woman (the gender). For females who identify as men and males who identify as women, their life is under constant misunderstanding and scrutiny. Even I have a very limited scope of their feelings and everyday lives. I do understand, however, that they are under constant fear for their lives and wellbeing, as the murder and harassment of transgender persons remains one the largest unspoken of phenomena pretty much everywhere.
4) Heterosexual Privilege
My sexual orientation is straight. People who are not heterosexual still fight for the same rights that straight people enjoy automatically. LGBTQI people are still facing constant harassment in certain spaces for who they choose to have relationships with. This is something I will never have to worry about. I have friends who are gay who have yet to even tell their parents.
SN: Regardless of your personal or religious beliefs, no one should be denied any legal right in this country. Beyond your personal or religious beliefs, everyone should be treated with love and respect, and I wouldn’t want to associate myself with any church that teaches otherwise. Which brings me to my next one-
5) Christian Privilege
This is also a difficult one. I remember rolling my eyes at a blog post that listed all the ways Christians benefit from society because I didn’t know what they were supposed to expect from a country built on Christianity. The truth is, this land was built on whatever beliefs that Native Americans held before they were almost completely wiped out by settlers under the guise of Christianity. The United States was built on a perverted form of Christianity where a white God told them that it was okay to enslave millions of Africans. That is not the God I serve and neither is that white Jesus put up everywhere.
Even still, as Islamophobia fills the hearts of way too many, I realize that I get a societal pass for being Christian. Muslim citizens who look Middle Eastern are mistrusted and Muslim citizens who are black are misunderstood. That is as far as I dare to speak on behalf of their experiences but from what I have seen them say, it is increasingly difficult and scary.
Definitions of privilege vary. I have seen people describe it an advantage shared only by a specific group of people based on a factor they were born with. Others may say that you can work to gain certain privileges in society and some privileges can be taken away. Either way, it gives you a societal advantage, not a monetary one as confused by so many poor Whites and it does not mean that there won’t be isolated incidences that serve as exceptions. Yes, police can mistreat a white person. That does not change that as a whole, people of color are more likely, based on proportions (not simple numbers), to have fatal encounters with law enforcement even when they are unarmed.
That’s all I have! Do you agree these are privileges? Disagree? Are there any you identify with that I mentioned or didn’t mention? I would love to hear your feedback!