There is a tendency to jump to images of Ku Klux Klan and burning crosses when people hear the terms white supremacy and racism.
The following may come as a surprise even individual acts of violence, discrimination or abuse are not the aim of fighting racism or white supremacy. Those acts are an aberration, but they are the symptoms of a systemic construct which underpins the foundation of our society.
White supremacy is any systemic action which upholds and promotes the structures which disproportionately impact on people of colour.
Let us start with the most damaging act,
The idea of a meritocracy is also a construct rooted in these structures. The data and life experience of those of us of colour are crystal clear. Those of you who believe that the inequity is because the PoC do not work hard enough or are less intelligent; Are either fooling themselves or deliberate swallowing a lie to make our lives more comfortable to live within.
What is Privilege – I am not privileged?
Lots of people question the source of the social concept of ‘privilege’. Yes, I’ve also heard lots of conspiracy theories about lizards and serpents whose sole aim is the subjection of the mass. Sigh. What is privilege?
How do you define yourself?
Here are some of the ascription that I have chosen,
Native English speaking
All of these different labels come with *systemic* experiences.
1. Women systemically earn less than men.
2. People of colour systemically are more likely to receive worse health care.
3. Cis people are less likely to be attacked for their gender.
The above traits come with their disadvantages. The lack of ‘disadvantage’ is what is known as having privilege. If you don’t need to worry about any other the above, you’ve never considered the impact; you’re probably are privileged.
In this piece, I want privilege to be seen as a lack of ‘disadvantage’.
What are these traits?
What does your own journey through life, where are you systemically disadvantaged and where are you systemically not?
Activity: Us the the diagram below to detail your own profile.
Where does Privilege come from?
Rationally privilege is a zero-sum game. For me to possess male privilege, women have to be oppressed as a consequence.
Zeus Leonardo expertly describes privilege as walking down the street and finding that someone has stuffed money into your pockets. Leonardo then goes on to explain that money came straight from the pockets of the oppressed.
Privilege comes from oppression. Someone always suffers as a result of our advantage.
Complex Not Complicated?
We all have different systemic experiences; as a PoC and a male, my gender gives me the distinct lack of disadvantage of those who are female (etc.). Simultaneously, as a PoC I live with the systemic and institutionally disadvantages daily.
As no one is merely black, or only male, or well anything, it starts to become more complex.
Complex not complicated. Yes, I have a systemic disadvantage, and I have a systemic lack of disadvantage. That’s all okay. Intersectionality describes people experience through society.
Here people get caught up in describing the severity of people’s disadvantages and who’s privileges are higher. I have always questioned why this is important? All systemic oppressions are equally unfair. None of these disadvantages are deserved, and alike none of our privileges are earned.
I would suggest if you afforded a life without a disadvantage then, you owe society that ‘lack of disadvantage’ back. You should attempt to use your privilege to redress the balance.