There is something that was recently brought to my attention that I realize needs to be acknowledged.
All of what I write about I have experience with. However, as I explore making choices to live the best life that I can for myself, there is a matter to be addressed.
I have a relatively privileged life. First, I am a white, mostly straight, cis-gendered male, so right there I know this opens a lot of doors to begin with. Second, I live in the Northeastern United States, so I blend in pretty well overall. Third, I have always had someone in my life, friend or family that would help me out when times got rough along the way.
It is important that I acknowledge this, because I recognize that my options are less limited than many others who come from places lacking this much privilege. Despite my understanding and empathy for those who have a much more difficult struggle, I cannot and do not know just how that goes.
Yes, I have some minority and less-privileged aspects to my life. I was born and raised Jewish, come from a single-parent home in the Midwest in the 1980’s when that was far rarer, and am overweight. Yet these things only provide me with some experience and context, but do not lessen my privilege.
The question this raises is this — if your privilege is showing, how can you be a true ally to those who do not have the same?
That’s what I feel I need to address here.
What does privilege impact?
Short answer: Everything.
Long answer: The struggles I might have to go through, while not outright dismissible, will still differ a lot from what others may face. For example, I am white, so I am not going to face discrimination because of the color of my skin or the curl and thickness of my hair.
Because I am male, I will not be paid two-thirds less than another co-worker, because I also have a penis. Further, nobody is trying to keep me from access to medications or medical procedures that impact my biology.
Since I live in the part of the country that I do, while there is still racism and sexism, it is less rampant here. Also, because I am white and male, overall I am not going to be subjected to bigotry.
Finally, because I come from a middle-class family where there has always been financial security, even in my worst financial situation I wasn’t going to become homeless. Neither was I going to only be able to eat nothing but ramen, or live out of my car.
Every single one of these is a matter of privilege. Why does it matter that I acknowledge this? Because the things I am choosing to do with my life are more possible because of it.
Yes, anyone can practice mindfulness. Certainly conscious reality creation is available to all. But because of the advantages my privileged life has provided for me, it does cause some skew to my perspective.
Know your privilege
First and foremost — I am not an expert on the topic of privilege. What I do know, however, is that I have certain privilege in my life, and acknowledging it is important.
Why? Because I am aware of what this means. For all my writing about mindfulness and working on creating an amazing life, not everyone is coming from the same place as I.
Further, when I offer support to those who come from less privilege, and struggles due to gender, race, nationality, sexual orientation, and the like, I identify as an ally, rather than someone directly impacted.
This matters because too many people come out speaking from a place of authority who do not recognize their privilege. If not that, they may inadvertently cause offense, because they just are incapable of understanding the struggle they do not have to go through.
Hence why I am sharing this. I know that I have been fortunate in this life. While I desire to have more for myself, one of my ultimate goals to be better able to support others. I know that to change the world, it has to begin with me.
Finally, by acknowledging this, I hope to show how much being able to make improvements to the lives of everyone I encounter is so important to me. It is my desire to be the best ally that I can be.
Is Your Privilege Showing?