The 411 on What Privilege Means

Privilege tends to be one of those taboo topics. People purposefully avoid eye contact or turn their attention elsewhere when they hear the word uttered. This could be due a multitude of things but the main reasons are because of fear and ignorance. Fear in what you are owning up to if you admit to having some type of privilege and ignorance of not truly knowing what the word itself means.

Privilege is the concept that not everyone starts on the same playing field and that in itself affects the individual’s life. Or as Laura Willard stated in her article:

Privilege means that some of us have advantages over others for any number of reasons we don’t control — like who we are, where we come from, the color of our skin, or certain things that have happened in our lives.  

Now, let’s take a minute to make sure we all understand this basic concept by looking at a comic strip that Laura includes in her article (which you can read more of here) that was done by the brilliant artist, Toby Morris. privilegeprivilege2privilege3privilege4

After, looking at this comic, can you think of the privilege you possess? Are you less fearful to admit what type of privilege you may have?

Privilege is not meant to be this horrible thing that makes you a bad person. As illustrated, it is something uncontrollable. We don’t ask to be born into a certain family or economical situation. However, understanding and acknowledging your privilege is controllable. It is the first step to know our role in helping others and engaging in meaningful service.

Peggy McIntosh suggests in her article, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, to write a laundry list of ways in which your privilege has contributed to your life and given you access and opportunities. Take a moment and don’t become the bystander but instead an educator for those who do not know the implications of their privilege and what it really means.

“…these differences in privilege are not made less by not engaging in service.”  – S. Mei-Yen Hui

-ValCat

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