by Isabelle Laureta
All of us, no matter what our economic standing in life is, have privilege. It’s just that we don’t often realize it because we’ve lived a certain privileged way most of our lives that everything that happens to us seems only natural, when in fact it happens because of the privilege you don’t even notice you’re benefitting from. That’s what privilege does, and that’s why there’s a constant need to “check” it.
Like most things in life, privilege comes in a whole lot of forms. There’s white privilege, male privilege, heterosexual privilege, the privilege of having money, the privilege of having friends with money, name it! But just like money that you (or your friends) may have so much of, privilege is not evil. The problem is when you use it in certain ways.
- When you say doing something is easy
Sure, finding a job is easy—if you have four years of college education, connections, and the means to attend job interviews. Of course, starting a family in your early 20s is easy—if you’re living in the past century when a simple eight-to-five job would suffice and owning a house wouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg. Yes, talking about your gender is easy-peasy-lemon-squeazy—if you’re straight and don’t have a closet to come out of. Listen, just because you have it easy doesn’t mean it’s easy for every single person on the planet. It’s not okay to ridicule other people for not being able to do something you didn’t have a hard time doing because even if you’re dealing with the same problem, you’re not living the same life.
- When you say “just quit your job and chase your dreams!”
Dude, not everybody can just “quit their jobs.” Some of us have mouths to feed and bills to pay. So yeah, chasing our dreams is inviting, and it’s certainly one of our #GOALS, but sometimes, quitting our jobs just isn’t an option. If you’ve done that and succeeded, then all I can say is good for you and I wish I had your life. Not everyone can be as lucky.
- When you say you don’t care about the news anymore
I get it. Whenever I watch or read the news, I don’t get anything but stressed. I, myself, have been saying “I don’t care about politics anymore. I’m so sick of it.” But the fact that we get to say that just shows how privileged we are—that we don’t have to literally fight for our lives just to get sacks of rice for our families to eat; that we don’t have to care whether or not our President approves same-sex marriage because we are not homosexuals; that we don’t care how many alleged drug addicts are shot dead by policemen or even civilian men in motorcycles because it’s not our lives on the line and they’re “criminals” anyway. People are fighting and people are dying. It could easily have been you, if not for the privilege you’re enjoying.
- When you say, “just be happy” to a depressed person
Emotions don’t have buttons that you can turn off when you feel like it. Telling a depressed person to just be happy is like telling a poor person to just be rich. It doesn’t magically work that way! It might be easy for you to say just be happy because you already are, and you don’t realize how hard it is to get to where you mentally are because you’ve never been at the other side of things. You might have said it out of good intentions, but it’s honestly not doing anyone a favor.
- When you say racism/sexism/homophobia/any societal issue is a myth
If you’ve ever walked inside a mall without anybody avoiding you because you “look like a terrorist,” good for you; If you haven’t been told by your classmates you look good “for your race,” good for you; If you walk down the street without fearing you might get raped and without a stranger whistling at your ass, good for you; If you haven’t felt confused by your identity because you’re a boy who also likes boys, good for you. But the world isn’t only about you and your privileged life, is it? Just because it’s not happening to you, doesn’t mean it’s not happening to anybody else. It’s not your fault you’re born “normal” as per society’s stupid standards, but it would be a shame to simply shrug and turn your eyes away just because you’re not affected by the things your privileges are blinding you from. Open your eyes, dude.