Yes You Have Privilege! Now What?

“I acknowledge my white privilege,” said Sarah Chadwick, a Florida Parkland student.

Sarah and her Parkland peers were meeting with the Peace Warriors, a Chicago based student group that teaches students how to resolve conflicts peacefully. The Peace Warriors have been working on eradicating gun violence in their Chicago community for years but have not garnered anywhere near the national attention the Parkland students have during their entire fight.

“It was like the room just went silent,” Gerald Smith, the Peace Warrior advisor commented. “I got choked up. When that came to light, there were tears. That was just profound.”

The meeting with the Peace Warriors is one of the ways that Parkland’s student activists say they are working to use their influence to advance minority groups that have been working for years without national attention. “I said it because it’s true. White privilege does exist and a lot of us have it,” Chadwick told TIME in a recent interview. “If we could use our white privilege to amplify the voices of minorities, then we’re going to use it. The more we ignore it, the worse it gets.”

I've been grappling with this concept of privilege. We automatically think of 'White Privilege' when this word is spoken.  I do believe white privilege and male privilege exists. But are there other privileges I have chosen to ignore that have helped me get to where I am today? And if so, what am I doing with these priviledges?

Hmmmm.....

1) The fact that I have a mother who fought her way through an educational system that once rejected black people, to become the first in her family to acquire a college degree. Then she taught her children how to effectively navigate through that same system:

Is that PRIVILEGE?

2) The fact that my mom knew to offer us training in the arts and creativity, give us exposure and perspective with travel, and opportunity to work with a wide range of people. She encouraged us to take risks in order to be resilient and resourceful:

Is that PRIVILEGE?

3) The fact that I was born in America in 1979 in my generation:

Is that PRIVILEGE?

4) The fact that all my limbs work and my cognitive faculties are all intact:

Is that PRIVILEGE?

5) The fact I can read, write and have a degree from UCLA:

Is that PRIVILEGE?

6) The fact that I'm  -let's get real- 5'7 and a size 4 in a culture that has a certain standard of 'American Beauty' (though God says we're ALL fearfully and wonderfully made):

Is that PRIVILEGE?

 

Now, yes there other privileges that I didn't receive that this country inherently honors. I will never be male and I will never be white. I did not come from a family of wealth. But I’m honored to be who I am (though it took a journey to get to that point!).

Nevertheless, I think some people have difficulty with accepting they have 'privilege' because it seems to discount their personal effort and hard work – like admitting they got to where they are 'just because' of these characteristics that they had no control over. I understand that. Trust me. I have worked hard to get to where I am and, by the grace and favor of God, I'm still climbing. But I have to acknowledge that even with my hard work, I was ‘lucky’ or blessed to have certain benefits afforded to me that I had no control over.

My hard work doesn't negate the fact that I have been afforded certain privileges along the way, such as where and when I was born and who I was born unto.

This isn't 1918 and I'm not in a 3rd world country living on $2 a day yearning for clean water and praying not to get raped on my way to school. I don’t have to deal with those atrocities but thousands of people around the world do.

Like the Parkland students, once we acknowledge the privileges we have, we need to position ourselves to assist others with information and opportunities to help them reach their goals or develop their full potential as human beings. We can either use our privilege to selfishly stomp on people while trying to achieve our own definition of success or we can use our privilege to uplift humanity and propel our nation forward.

 

The choice is yours.

 

I choose to do the latter and I hope you'll join me.

 

Video Link the was referenced in V-Blog

https://www.ted.com/talks/gary_haugen_the_hidden_reason_for_poverty_the_world_needs_to_address_now