I was born to a middle class family of European-descent. My twin sister and I were born into the arms of parents who knew (well, I think?) what they were getting themselves into when preparing to conceive another child. Yep, surprise, ya hit the jackpot and got two, mom and dad! The best things come in pairs! Two healthy babies. One with very little hair – ahem, Alli – but two green-eyed, spunky little humans.
Anyway, I loved my childhood. There is not a moment that I would change about it. We had the neighborhood bike rides, the heated pool, the fluffy golden retriever, the backyard barbecues, the leisurely drives, the candy, the board games. I grew, developed, and learned in supportive households, even before I was sent to school to further such aspects of myself. When my parents divorced, I was indeed too young to understand, but am grateful that they took on this immensely difficult challenge. Divorce is often regarded as a “split” of a family; separate households, separate holidays, separate lifestyles. While some of this has felt true throughout my life, it has never held me back significantly.
I don’t want to discount anything that my parents have worked so hard to provide for me. I am grateful beyond belief for every hardship that they each had to, and continue to, go through to provide for our family. This is something that I aim to do for my children one day, too. (Except in my household, we’ll have many, many more dogs.) This is superfluous, though.
I am privileged.
That word should not make you shiver, or make you think that I am some egotistical gal. Privilege is something that you are unable to influence, so why is it a curse word? Many people refuse to admit and acknowledge privilege. What does this mean for our community and relationships?
Recognizing and accepting privilege takes courage because you know that it is something others wish to have more of. Needless to say, you hold a lot of power by having a lot of privilege. This, however, does not make you entitled.
I did nothing to be born into the situation I am in. I am forever grateful, but I know that I can’t say that I just got lucky and sit idly by, content with just my own well-being. I am no more entitled to a healthy, happy life than anyone else. I feel fortunate that I was not born into a division of my community that struggles with their identity in the larger community, or born into a family that is not fiscally able to provide for anything but my basic needs of life. I was able to worry about my socks mismatching rather than the next time I would eat.
If we forget to recognize that other people are not born into such privilege, we also brush aside the inhumanities that people with less privilege inevitably face. Admitting privilege and rejecting the feelings of entitlement are our first steps to caring. If we are in a position to help those who are unable to control their situation, we should feel inclined to do so, knowing that we would want someone to do that for us.