Born into Privilege | #MyFridayStory No. 76

Born into Privilege | #MyFridayStory No. 76

We are all born with some form of privilege.

Whether it’s being born male, or wealthy, or into a family that has the financial means to nurture and care for you. Privilege is a touchy topic, because most of us have benefitted from it, and it doesn’t sit well to admit it.

I had an “Ah-ha” moment about my privileges. Here’s some of my thoughts.

  • Definition of Privilege

The version we are looking at describes privilege as:

A right, immunity, or benefit that is enjoyed only by one person, beyond the advantages of most people .

I’ll start by saying this:

I’m a white Afrikaner, Christian, middle-aged, heterosexual, male.

The privileges I have been afforded, are too many to mention.

I owe a debt of gratitude, and of service, to anyone of colour; all women and LGBT folks; people of other cultures and other religions; and anyone else where I unduly, directly or indirectly, benefitted.

  • White Privilege

I have tried to have an introspective look at how I have benefitted from the privileges I was born with. The most obvious privilege, is that I’m born white. Hundreds of years ago, my ancestors set sail from France and The Netherlands, and later landed at The Cape in South Africa. Both of my parent’s lineage can be traced back to those original colonists from Europe. My privilege runs deep.

  • Male Privilege

A privilege I never considered at first, was that of being a man. There are the obvious advantages that men enjoy over women, such as salaries, social status, or political advantages. But, I recently read a story with a different thought on male privilege, that scared me.

A teacher asked her class, equally split into male and female students, this question:

“What do you do to make sure you don’t get sexually assaulted?”

She first asked the men:

None of the men reported doing anything to feel safe from being raped.

Then she asked the women:

The women all raised their hands, each with stories to tell and advice to offer other women. Many shared their stories of how they had escaped a dangerous situations with a man. Every woman in the class spoke of the ways that they try to minimise the chances of being sexually assaulted.

At first, I couldn’t believe it could be that bad. Until I asked my daughter and her friend – in their mid-twenties – how they have navigated the world around men. They echoed what the women in that classroom felt.

Imagine that?

Women around the world live in a constant state of angst that some man, any man, might be capable of losing control of himself and sexually assaulting her.

  • Socio-Economic Privilege

Another privilege I never considered, is being born into a loving, middle-class home. The privilege of being raised in a healthy, loving environment, with regular meals, clean clothes and a good education, is a massive head-start, not afforded to most.

  • Christian Privilege

There is no doubt about the undue privilege Christians are provided in a Western culture. Christians can worship freely without any fear of being persecuted. Whereas, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and other religions, don’t enjoy such freedom. They are often persecuted and victimised for following their faith.

Addressing privilege where it has unduly benefited a few at the expense of many, is a tough conversation to have. There are bound to be many different points of view, explanations and arguments.

One thing is sure though.

Being marginalised because of someone else’s undue privilege, is a crappy feeling.

Privilege of any kind should be used as a means to help those that haven’t been given the same opportunity.

When I had my “Ah-ha” moment of my undue privilege, I realised the best way I can respond, is to use it to try fix past wrongs. I decided to try use it for good, in whatever way I can.

Turns out, there might still be some use for a white Afrikaner, Christian, middle-aged, heterosexual, male, afterall.

* I enjoyed this 15-minute TEDx Talk by Tiffany Jana on The Power of Privilege.

* (Feel free to drop me a mail frans@leap1st.com I’d like that.)

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