Sunday, December 6, 2009


It's something that's come up recently, this notion of privilege.
Am I guilty of it? Am I privileged at all?
The answers are: sort of, and definitely.

I'm white. I'm fairly educated, (or at least self-educated,) I'm (mostly,) cis-gendered.

I keep coming back to thoughts of my own naivete.
I don't see the world the way I'm supposed to.
That, in and of itself, is a privilege.

I was raised to see people as people. Also, to paraphrase George Carlin: Give the average person 5 minutes and they'll give you more than enough reasons to loathe them.
I just don't have the time or energy to hate people on the basis of externals.
How am I not privileged?
I'm female. I'm poor. I'm both a caregiver of a disabled person and have disabilities. I identify as bisexual because I'm attracted to women, although all of my partners/relationships have been with men.
I'm a rape survivor. I have depression and PTSD.
How do we get past the privilege and start dealing with each other as human beings?
How do we not get bogged down in our differences?
I'm not sure.
I do know that ultimately, the things that divide people who are oppressed, are far less important than what unites us.
I know that keeping us all divided serves those in power and so they propagate those divisions.
I know that we should all work on seeing each other as people first.
If I define myself by either my privilege or oppressed status, I become paralyzed. Often I pretend neither exists.
I have to, in order to function on a day-to-day basis.
I know that one thing I hang onto is a quote from Bill Maher, "Either we're all drinking from the same water fountain, or we're not."
Reducing things to the simplest terms, keeps me fighting.
If any one of us is not free, none of us are free.
What doesn't matter to me in my interactions with people: race, ethnicity, gender, income, education, orientation... Putting ourselves and each other into tiny little boxes doesn't help anyone.
We all have specific vulnerabilities, yes.
Why are our own problems more important than anyone else's? "Because they're mine," To quote Ally McBeal. Yes, in our hierarchy of priorities, our problems take precedence. It's first principles at work.
In reality, oppression is oppression.
Can you imagine the tidal wave of humanity, roaring at those in the halls of power, if we could put our differences aside?
We would be an unstoppable force for change.
We need to start thinking like that. As long as we keep to ourselves and remain fragmented, we are weakened. We are powerless. Just the way politicians and corporations like us.
My rights are not damaged by removing the barriers to others' rights.
Freedom benefits everyone.
Except the power structure.
I'm okay with that, really.
Are you?

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