We All Have Privileges
We have been conditioned for most of the time to see privilege as having financial power, especially in this part of the world. When we hear the word “privilege,” our minds immediately interpret it as the ability to have everything one needs. While this is a type of privilege, it is not all that privilege is about. Privilege is way more than that, and the truth is that we all have privileges.
Privilege is challenging to talk about as it means different things to different people. In fact, to a considerable extent, many of us have been taught that privilege is something someone enjoys that puts others at a disadvantage. However, I think that is not true as I believe it to be very shortsighted and nuanced.
I started to think through the idea of privilege after reading a Twitter thread of a guy who explained how he has certain privileges, only that this time, it was not a matter of financial power but of intelligence (I hope my memory serves me right). This got me thinking hard as I thought the thread would end with him telling us how rich his parent was and how they were able to afford him anything he wanted.
Privilege to me means having an advantage that is out of your control, which you never asked for. You were just born into it. For the most part, we never get to notice our privileges until we consciously educate ourselves about them. In essence, privileges are usually invisible to those that have them and visible to those that lack them.
We see the son of a rich man going through some other hard time medically as privileged for his wealth. But that rich man’s son fails to understand the purpose of all the wealth when his health fails. Hence, he sees good health as a privilege that he lacks, but you enjoy. But you see wealth as a privilege you lack, but he enjoys. I guess we are all messed up
Some Criticism about Privileges
It isn’t easy to accept our privileges. This is because we see privilege as the other side of oppression. As I mentioned earlier, we tend to see privilege as something that puts others at a disadvantage. So, because I am wealthy, I am the cause of your poverty.
There are schools of thought that argue against talking about one’s privileges. They believe that the moment you begin to talk about your privilege, you are seen as a part of a system that puts others without that privilege at a disadvantage. For instance, if a light-skinned lady enjoys white privileges and acknowledges them, she is immediately painted as a bad person trampling on everyone who does not enjoy that privilege.
Another school of thought believes the word “privilege ” is a blanket term that means you have had it easy all your life or are immune from all forms of hardship or difficulty.
Both schools of thought are extremist views. The light-skinned lady did not create herself to be light-skinned (I know you may want to argue the case of bleaching. I guess that is another discussion). Also, because she is light-skinned does not mean she created the system that gives light-skinned people certain privileges. Does she enjoy it? Yes, she does! Is she a bad person for that? No, she is not.
In the same vein, being light-skinned does not mean she doesn’t have it hard in other areas of her life. She could be shortsighted. She could be short. She could be a lousy singer. She could have grown up struggling and many other things we do not count as privileges.
We All Have Privileges – The Relativity of Privilege
We all have privileges that we enjoy and privileges we do not enjoy. I did not grow up in a wealthy home, but because my parents were intelligent, We took that off them. We did well academically all through school. That is a privilege we never knew we had.
For a fact, we spent time wishing we grew up in wealthy homes and what we would have done if we grew up in one that we failed to recognize that we were privileged to be academically intelligent, which has gone on to play a significant role in where we are today.
We all have privileges, and we all enjoy them, and it has nothing to do with putting others at a disadvantage. On the contrary, at best, our privileges give us an advantage over others. Which I think are two different things.
That you can draw is a privilege.
That you have access to the internet is a privilege
That you can dance is a privilege
That you attended one of the best universities is a privilege
That you have some of the best friends is a privilege.
That your body parts and organs are complete and function is a privilege
That your health is excellent is a privilege.
That you have access to education is a privilege.
But having these privileges has nothing to do with putting anyone at a disadvantage. On the contrary, it only gives you an advantage.
Your good health is not the cause of someone’s bad health. Likewise, your intelligence is not the cause of someone else’s dullness.
However, I will not be ignorant to note that privileges are relative because they carry more weight than the other. For instance, a person who grew up in a wealthy home may have more exposure and access than an intelligent person. Because money can give that person access to things like good schools, the best teachers, internet, comfort that intelligence will not be able to provide almost immediately.
Talk about our Privileges.
You are not a bad person if you talk about your privileges. First, you must be very comfortable talking about your privileges. You must make a conscious effort to recognize them and own up to them. You are not a bad person for that. You must love yourself
You cannot capitalize on what you are ignorant about, so you must consciously make an effort to know your privileges and enjoy them.
If your privilege is dancing, you should ask how you use your privilege to pave the way for you to enjoy other privileges.
We must stop looking down on people who have certain privileges. Stop being jealous or bitter towards them. What it does is that it blinds you from seeing your privileges, no matter how insignificant they may be.
My privilege is not the reason you do not have it. So stop comparing yourself with me when you can capitalize on your privileges.
Using Your Privilege to Help Others
Privileges and a lack of them are how power is distributed. Behind every privilege is an imbalance of power. However, we must not be stupid to walk over others because of our privileges.
We must have enough empathy to use our privileges to help others. The power accrued to us because of our privileges is given to us to impact other people’s lives.
Systemic injustice is not suitable for anyone, and the fact that it favors you means you should do all within your power to help others from being affected by it.
Male privilege prioritizes men above women. White privilege prioritizes white above black. But we know that such preference or prioritization is helping no one in all honesty. If you are light-skinned, you most likely have dark-skinned folks you hold dear to heart. If you are male, you have a mother, sister, and female friends.
Marginalizing others because of their lack of privilege is pure evil. But you can do the right thing with your privilege. You can uphold equity!
We lack certain privileges does not mean that we do not enjoy other privileges. Understanding this helps us live a peaceable life and gives us the opportunity to a better world for ourselves and others.
One thing for sure is that we all have privileges, and we must learn to use them to make the world a better place.