It’s time to talk about the ‘p’ word friends: privilege. I had a recent Facebook scuttle with a young white minister that triggered a topic I think we all need to discuss.
In the conversation with the minister-boy (yes, boy), I told him, verbatim, “Until you take the time to step outside of your bubble of privileged ignorance, I have nothing to explain to you”.
Life lesson: don’t feel obligated to explain everything to everyone when google does it for free.99.
Minister-boy assumed I was talking about having a certain amount money when I said “privilege”. I wittingly replied “There’s more to privilege than money.”
But I want to add to that by saying there’s also more to privilege than whiteness.
1. Male Privilege
This one is easy and stems from the fact that we live in a patriarchal society. Basically, if you’re a self-identifying male, you have tons of advantages over women.
Here’s a few of my personal faves to advocate against: higher wages for the same jobs, social advantages like easy access bathroom access in public or living without fear of harassment.
Check out one of my favorite reads about how male privilege appears in our everyday lives.
2. Hetero-Cis Privilege
If you aren’t familiar with the term “hetero-cis”, let me school you real quick.
“Hetero” is short for heterosexual (i.e. straight). “Cis” is short for cisgender (i.e. identifying as the biological sex that you’re born with).
Hetero-cis would describe any person that is not in the LGTBQ community or identifies as such. This is a privilege because literally our entire society was setup with the hetero-cis-normative person in mind.
Our marriage laws are for hetero-cis people, our bathrooms, our sex-education (or lack thereof), our entertainment. The list goes on and on. But for people that are not hetero-cis, life is much more difficult and people are much more judgy.
3. Able-bodied Privilege
This one is something everyone can understand. If you are healthy and living without disabilities that limit your capacity to live everyday life, then you are able-bodied.
We can all agree that having good health and an able-body is an advantage.
4. Socioeconomic Privilege
You know those rich people that run the world and say stuff like “my dad gave me a small loan of million dollars”? Yeah…socioeconomic or money privilege.
Money gets you places in this world, and trying to deny that is a flat-out life. I mean, look at y’alls president. (#NotMyPresident)
But money privilege manifests itself in an assortment of ways: people with more money have more access to better quality healthcare, food sources, living accommodations, and education.
5. Education Privilege
Speaking of education, having an education is a huge advantage. While some may argue that education is a right and not a privilege, you can’t dispute the fact that being granted that right to any level of education is a huge privilege in itself.
But it’s one of those tricky ones that come in varying degrees. For example, most children in the United States have more education than most children in the Sub-Sahara region who drop out before primary school ends.
Even within the U.S. there are degrees of educational advantages. For example, I had the privilege of being accepted into college and graduating with a 4-year degree. Yet for many of my peers from the same neighborhood, that wasn’t a possibility.
Having an education to any degree is such a stepping-stone because it opens doors to life-long resources that are otherwise difficult to unlock.
6. Light-skin Privilege
This one is relevant to my life because I live with it everyday. Light-skin privilege is just like white privilege but…not. Light-skin privilege is rooted in colorism within communities of color.
It works similarly to white privilege where a light-skin person is received differently and often more favorably in society than someone of a darker skin tone.
A light-skin person often has advantages in corporate America and in climbing the social ladder. Light-skin privilege has often put people of color in closer proximity to white people throughout history. (i.e. ever heard of the term “passing”?)
Privilege is not inherently bad. What makes these bad is when you use your privilege to…shit on others.
If you look hard enough at your life, you might find some form of privilege that serves you. But here’s some food for thought: have your own advantages served anyone outside of yourself?
Have you used your advantages to help others who live at the margins of our society?
Do some soul-searching. Figure out what privileges you might have in our society, and figure out how you can use it to help others.
Your privilege can help someone; we are our neighbor’s keeper, so let’s get to werk!