My privilege is everything. My ability to change, my willingness to do better, my scope on life, my aspirations. When I don’t get stopped at an airport or pulled over by police. My brain experiencing the thought patterns that it does. My right to a democracy. My ownership of my body, sexuality and gender. To say yes. To say no. When I can pack it all up and leave; when I can try something new, that nobody I know has done before, my privilege is spoken, written and received.
But how can I help those without the privilege?
Acknowledgement is where to start. Knowing that, in my circumstance, I have many rights and exceptions that others do not.
People of colour, women born in a different country to me, non-binary people, disabled people, impoverished people and many more do not benefit from many (or any) of the advantages that are given, knowing or unknowingly, to others higher in our current social hierarchy.
I also acknowledge that I am not at the top of this food-chain. My economic situation (although not desperate) inhibits me from ever being the forceful elite. I come from financially poor people and I will be relatively comfortable throughout my life, but never rich. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon, contacts or inherited wealth or titles. I will fight for my place in society. If I want to move up this ladder, the step will not be handed to me.
I was born a female with white skin, bluish eyes and light, straight hair. I am from a Western country where I have freedom to express my opinion, this is my right. I have no physical impairments. Religion is not forced on me, English is my first language, albeit with an accent, that’s seen as charming not a hindrance. That is my privilege.
Once I acknowledge my privilege I can then listen. Hear stories from others on their experience, their history or their ancestry. Become aware of others struggles, put myself in the position of someone who hasn’t had the foot up in life that is given to me and I unwittingly take. Research why people from marginalised groups are angry, find out why they are fighting, who they are fighting against and how I fit into that situation. Am I a perpetrator? Do I know someone who is? Can I be valuable in the discussion? Remember to acknowledge but here is not your space. Give people the time to be heard.
I politely correct when I witness an injustice, when I see people abuse their privilege or fail to acknowledge it exists. I correct when someone undermines another based on an imagined hierarchy. I fiercely correct when I see hate towards an individual or group of people. I ask why they hold this opinion, try to make them question the root of their prejudice.
We must use our words to expand our privilege to include each human on the planet. It’s the only way we can move forward.