Yes, I’m Quite Privileged

My actual results

My actual results

I finally got around to taking the “How Privileged Are You Test?” created by Buzzfeed. Previously, I posted that Buzzfeed is a vanguard in how we communicate about race in the 21st century. This test just cements that status.

Not-so-suprisingly, my results revealed that I’m “quite privileged.” I’m able-bodied, from a supportive middle class family, hold a college degree, and have a decent paying job in the field of my choice. I was raised by both parents who empowered me to succeed. I didn’t have it all, but I certainly had enough.

I never went without. As an adolescent, I never knew struggle outside of issues with my self-esteem and confidence. I never knew the horrid oppression of systematic racism or institutional slavery. I never knew the underbelly of racism until I left the sanctity of my NYC home, and headed to the urban suburb of Boston for university.

I talk a lot about white privilege and patriarchy. And I always will. I unapologetically believe that white Americans reap unearned advantages and benefits by the very nature of their skin color. I also unapologetically believe that patriarchy calls for the degradation and dehumanization of the female body, soul, and mind.

However, very rarely do I stop and realize how other socioeconomic factors play into the intricate dynamic of privilege. For now, being able-bodied means that I’ll never experience the hardship of restricted movement or mental incapacity. Being heterosexual means that I’ll never feel guilty about who I choose to love, or be assaulted for my lifestyle choices in that respect. Coming from a loving middle class household with two working parents means I’ll never comprehend hunger, poverty, or homelessness.

The very nature of privilege is complicated. Privilege, at its core, is an intangible conglomerate of layered factors. Privilege is subjective … and that’s what makes it frustrating. Every person understands privilege differently. Across racial, ethnic, cultural, physical, gender, sexuality, etc lines, privilege is the force that drives us together while pulling us apart.

For me, privilege has always been an uncomfortable reality. Whenever I do outreach or volunteer work in low-income communities of color, I never quite feel “at home.” I genuinely want to help my fellow brothers and sisters, but I impugn my ability to do so. Can I really be a great help when our only common denominator is the color of our skin? Is it even my place to empathize when I know nothing of the obstacles they constantly face? Will they ever trust me? Should they even trust me? How best do I develop a mutual bond with someone I can never thoroughly understand?

My feeling of camaraderie is authentic… but so too is my doubt.

This is the beauty and brashness of privilege. It allows us to build linkages while highlighting the differences in our social structures. Privilege is inevitable. Although the concept of privilege causes discomfort and at times, hypocrisy, it’s necessary to understand and dissect.

For me, it’s important to remember that privilege extends beyond the realm of race. Although I will continue to believe that the upwards social mobility of people of color is paramount for continued economic and politicalĀ development, I need to remember that I do hold advantages that I did not earn. I did not choose to be blessed with a selfless family. I did not choose to stand on two legs. I did not choose the gender I was born into. I am not ashamed that I was dealt a pretty good hand.

But it is my choice to recognize how fluid my advantages are. It’s my choice to reflect on how unearned benefits fixate into our expansive socio-political landscape. And its my choice to do something about it.


2 responses to “Yes, I’m Quite Privileged

  1. Here’s a quote you might like, by Nelson Mandela “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in all of us. And when we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
    (This goes for atheists too. I realize the God stuff can turn people off, but I like the quote intact, and the man for who he was.)
    Here’s one you might like by Susan B. Anthony: “Cautious, careful people always casting about to preserve their reputation or social standards never can bring about reform. Those who are really in earnest are willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathies with despised ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.”
    And here’s one by Ursula LeGuin: “We are volcanoes. When women offer our experience as truth, as human truth, all maps change. There are new mountains.”
    And last one by Pema Chodron: “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we recognize our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”
    So…as usual… thanks for your particular voice and light.


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