How would you define privilege, in a way that breaks it down in how it works in our daily lives? There are a few social theories of white privilege and male privilege, among others. But how does that help me understand how it effects me everyday? The dictionary defines privilege as:
“A special advantage, immunity, permission, right, or benefit granted to or enjoyed by an individual, class, or caste. Such an advantage, immunity, or right held as a prerogative of status or rank, and exercised to the exclusion or detriment of others.”
Okaaaay. So it’s something where someone of a social class that’s high on whatever social hierarchy—be it economic, racial, caste, gender, etc.—who has access, or is granted rights, that others within other social classes aren’t granted or don’t have access to. That could still be fairly complicated, considering that me being one individual fits into different class structures completely differently. I’m a man, so I get granted certain rights because of that, like I’ve proly gotten paid more at some of my jobs than a woman who might have been doing my exact same job. But I’m a person of color, so I may have gotten paid less at some of my jobs than a white person doing the same job. I’m heterosexual, so I proly have gotten paid more than a queer person doing the same job. But that’s proly a pretty common example of privilege—wage earnings. What about someone who gets to work 10 minutes from their house as apposed to having to drive an hour and a half every day. The result of that is obvious, more personal time, whether it’s spent with family, on personal hobbies, or what have you, but more non-work time nonetheless. But do certain privileges (take class and race for example) contribute to a poor woman of color having a harder time getting such conveniences as an upper class white male? What privileges contribute to people in the upper class getting there in the first place?
I’m asking all these questions, cause I’ve grown to be real cynical lately, and I’m just wondering if my cynicism is grounded, or if I’m just angry for no real good reason. I know my answer’s gonna be a mix of both. Shit is fucked up. But I can’t let fucked up things in the world get in the way of me having and keeping meaningful relationships with people. White privilege is there, and it does effect people of color, but should I suddenly not talk to white people? What about my white friends that I’ve been friends with practically my whole life? Why should my relationships with them suffer cause I’ve had an epiphany that me and my family have struggled through shit that we wouldn’t have if we were part of the privileged classes? Should they individually be held accountable for bigger social problems? Shouldn’t them just being there, listening to me, understanding me, and supporting me be enough?