I’m trying to educate myself more about the racial divide in our country. Recently I came across a way of expressing how much I take for granted that is not available to many others.
Here’s the various privileges and my paraphrasing of the descriptions:
- Economic privilege – the possibility to pass wealth on to my children and to not worry about whether I can provide the necessities for my family…and also have enough for what would seem luxuries to many others (vacation, health care, etc.)
This is true for me. I do not consider myself “rich”–but compared to most of the rest of the world, I am. I have a home, health care, the ability to buy food and clothing, enough to have private transportation and be able to go on vacations.
- Spatial privilege – being able to move around without fear of violence.
Somewhat true for me. As a woman, I am more vulnerable than men–but I am definitely less vulnerable than minority individuals.
- Educational privilege – knowing that public education will meet my needs and that I can get a quality education.
Definitely true for me. I received an excellent education–and have been able to get two advanced degrees.
- Intellectual privilege – my accomplishments will be recognized as being my accomplishments, not as “a credit to [my] race.”
Again, true for me.
- Historical privilege – when I open a history book, people of my race are represented accurately and given credit
Again, true for me. As I have gotten older, I am realizing just how much I did not learn from my history books–how much history was presented from only my perspective, diminishing the accomplishments of individuals from other backgrounds.
- Generational privilege – the ability to search for and find my ancestors
I’ve been enjoying doing some family research, finding out more about my great-great-great-great-grandparents (and further back). I can find them in historical records without too much difficulty, although sometimes figuring out which spelling of my last name might have been used! But in looking at those records, I also often see individuals described by only one name (a “white” one) with no other information that might help their descendants connect with them.
- Bodily privilege – the freedom to look like I do and not have people judge me or want to touch me
Again, this is mostly true for me. Yes, sometimes I may have someone ask if I have put on (or lost) weight, but that is not a constant question. And, except for when I was pregnant, people have generally not wanted or felt free to touch me without asking.
Once we can begin to recognize how much of our lives we (as white people) live without acknowledging how much freedom we have, then we can begin to see the differences that exist–and work to make sure others have the same privileges we do.