The days after the Charlottesville debacle were eye-opening, and disturbing, to say the least. Not that horrific incidents haven’t taken place in the US since then, but it certainly jarred me. Just short of two years ago, Donald Trump was elected President of the Unites States. Needless to say, things have been avalanching downhill ever since. He has certainly made America hate again.
I was aware of the concept of privilege before then. In fact, I regarded myself as privileged. I always have, despite being an immigrant woman of colour who was neither born, nor raised in North America. I grew up in a middle class family in India, the younger of two girls. My parents though a little conservative, and very traditional never forced me to conform to any gender or societal roles. They always let me choose when it came to religion, vocation, and marriage. I always felt luckier than my friends, one of whom was married off at 15! I could hardly contain my joy when instead of forcing me into a big fat Indian wedding; they offered to send me “abroad” to study. I flew the nest all the way to the other side of the world to Ottawa in Canada.
My privilege increased, in my opinion. I now lived in the best country in the world, where everyone was the same, but realizing more so how much racism, sexism and discrimination cripple us. I also realized that a lot of people don’t completely comprehend the concept of privilege. Be it males, white people, heterosexual people, those with a high socio-economic status, etc.
Social media, however, is a beautiful thing! It has given voice to those that are afraid to speak up for themselves. It has increased knowledge and simple awareness of these social issues.
Two days after Charlottesville, I was in the lunchroom when I overheard a male co-worker say he didn’t have an opinion because he didn’t “like to get involved in politics”. I stood there listening and he went on to say that this was also the reason he didn’t believe in voting, and was saddened by the “PC world” we have to live in now where you can’t make a joke without someone getting offended, and where people could identify as a different gender everyday of the week.
And then, it dawned on me…
None of these issues, be it Charlottesville, sexism, gender identity issues, etc, affect him directly. He is a straight, white, bilingual male who was born and raised in Canada, now works for the Federal Government. He chooses to refrain from voting because he’s in a situation where regardless of which political party is in power, his needs are somehow always taken care of. He can be apolitical, and not express an opinion when White Supremacists take to streets torches ablaze, because they will never come after him and his rights and freedoms.
I could quote a plethora of well written, analytical articles on privilege and how its toxicity is making us recede into the dark ages. However, I choose to cite one video that explains it quite clearly.
What do you think of this video? Do you think you’re privileged? Or is it just a myth? Another social-media buzzword used by people to “complain” of inequality…?