Injustice infuriates me. There aren't many things that make me more angry than seeing people around the world suffering and being treated unfairly. Whether it's human trafficking, systematic oppression, sexism etc..it all makes my skin boil.
I will openly and without abandon, denounce anything that I think aims to lower a person's self worth. These enemies to self esteem and self value often come in the form of systems; systems created by people who are in love with power and aim to oppress any and everyone who is different than them.
I haven't always been so aware or so 'woke' as people say. I grew up in an environment that was so diverse and inclusive that issues of race were simply not on my radar. As I've matured, traveled and exposed myself to other perspectives I now see that a life free of racism and oppression is without a doubt a life of privilege.
As I dive deeper into these different narratives I'm blown away by the stark contrasts I see. Differences that are rooted so deep and go way beyond where someone lives or where they went to school. Differences that shape the experiences of youth and the thoughts and belief systems of adults.
I see these different experiences and different outcomes and they unsettle me. I see how my life of being home schooled and the fact that my mom was able to stay home with us has served me immensely.
I'm aware of the amount of privilege I have and have had in my life and I'm able to identify areas where I've been given the upper hand or had more access to success because of it. The privilege is not the main contributor to all of my accomplishments but it has definitely made things easier and more accessible.
My awareness of my educational privilege, in particular, has fueled a large part of my desire to work with under served youth. I want every student, whether their family can afford a private school or to home school, to have access to the best education possible. My privilege drives me.
I'm not sure what it is about awareness that leads some people to action and others to guilt. For example, white guilt, have you heard the term? It's something that boggles my mind. It's the idea behind White Americans feeling guilty because of slavery, racism and systematic oppression.
It often births, in moments where I've been able to observe it, feelings of bitterness, anger and the need to defend oneself.
Guilt is not the best use of privilege. Guilt does not translate to a call to action or to a change of systems and norms. Guilt is not the first step to a better world. In all of my conversations about race and injustice It has never been my goal to make my white counterpart feel guilty or like they need to apologize for the actions of their forefathers.
Rather the aim, my aim, is to help my friends and people I meet to see their privilege and become aware of the ways they've benefited because of it. White privilege is real and I'm not asking for someone to apologize for it, I'm asking for you to acknowledge it and use it to make this country a just, safe and equality driven place to live. It's not about cultivating a group filled with guilty motionless people, ones who are drowning in the aggression and hate of their ancestors. No, it's about people who are aware, filled with action and willing to extend their upper hand instead of using it simply for their own gain.
I would like to use Colin Kaepernick for a second to help explain privilege. Colin Kaepernick, despite the fact that he is a black man, has been privy to a lifestyle that reflects the privilege that white males typically have. As a baby Kaepernick was adopted by a white couple and lived for a short while in Wisconsin before moving to California. Kaepernick's parents were able to pay for him to play multiple sports his entire life which led to him being able to play in college and later in the NFL, which leads me to his current situation.
When Kaepernick became 'woke' to the systems of oppression in our country, even though he wasn't subjected to them growing up, he used his platform and his privilege to speak out against those systems.
Has Colin Kaepernick said all the right things throughout the process? No, but he had the courage to speak up and utilize his constitutional rights. Kaepernick chose to not pledge allegiance to the flag, something that I haven't done since college and he's brought awareness on a very large scale to an issue that he easily could have chosen to ignore.
Kaepernick is a black man in America that had access to a large amount of privilege, privilege that most black men will never touch and where he could have chosen to bask in his success he instead chose courage and integrity and to identify, utilize and potentially lose his privilege.
Do you have the courage to do the same?
So to wrap this all up, can we please talk about your privilege? Can we talk about how it serves you? How it has given you access to education and jobs and successes? Lets talk about it and push away the urge to feel guilty, to feel angry or to feel attacked.
My interest in the topic of privilege, particularly white and male privilege and my desire to bring exposure, awareness and action, does not come from a place of anger or hate, it comes only from love. White privilege is real and regardless of if you can identify how you've benefited from it, if you're a white person in America, you have. So lets talk about it, expose it and act.