Privilege is often a word that gets people on edge and pushes people to razor-sharp attention. When it is brought into the conversation, some people may feed into anger, while others step into a rock solid defense. But it doesn’t have to be this way. As a woman of color, I am aware of my position as a marginalized identity in the United States of America. However, with this comes much privilege. Just being a citizen of the United States alone offers me many advantages that others yearn after. In this article, I want to acknowledge the power of having benefits such as this and encourage people to own their advantages with both awareness and inclusivity. Because having privilege isn’t the issue. It’s what you do with it.
Privilege is defined as a special right, advantage, or immunity that is only accessible to a specific person or group of people. It comes in all shapes and sizes from getting equal wages to having flesh colored bandages actually match the color of your skin. People in advantageous positions often do not think of it unless reminded, because it’s almost like water is to a fish. If you have been living with it your whole life, how do you know it’s there?
Thus, it is always good to have reminders to recognize each of our positions of power, and come to terms with how the space we take up affects the people around us.
For example, I am a heterosexual cis-identifying woman. This means that I am straight and I identify with the gender assigned to me at birth. Given that our society is hetero-normative and cis-normative, I don’t have to think about these identities on a daily basis. Because of this, I make it a point to be cognizant of those who do not share those identities. With my privilege comes the need for me to be respectful of others’ experiences, in addition to continually being open to learning more about other lifestyles I may not understand completely. With this, I can help make a more inclusive space for the people around me in addition to providing comfort to others and providing a space for positive change to begin taking place.
You may not agree with everyone’s opinions and the way they live their lives. But each human deserves respect. A part of being respectful is checking and owning your own privilege, because we all have some. I am so thankful that I am in a position where I can write to you ladies about how powerful, strong, and lucky we are. I hope that you will join me in making this world a more inclusive space for both our sisters and the people around us. Thank you.
Blog contribution by:
Djenne Dickens, Yemaya Chapter