This is probably a bit of a rant. I doubt it is put together well and might even wander from point to point.
I have been running into discussions/post about Privilege a lot lately. White Privilege, Male Privilege, Class Privilege, etc.
I am very frustrated with it all. The push has been to show how people are or are not privileged and then there is the listing of ways people deal with the guilt of being privileged (“get off the hook”). But there doesn’t seem to be anything about what to do if you find out your are Privileged. There is no positive movement forward. Just a list that makes you feel bad if you have a lot of it or maybe justified of why your life is a mess if you don’t have much of it.
I go through the lists and I admit I do start to feel a little bad about being “Privileged.” But when I really think about it, I have decided I have nothing to feel bad about. Yes I am Privileged. I got a very good start in my life. And I don’t think I should have a problem with that.
My grandparents didn’t get farther than high school if they even finished it but worked very hard and built businesses and lifestyles that included money. Both of my parents have college degrees and went back to get Masters. When I was young, we lived at an upper middle class level I think. My parents also have very unique ways of interfacing with life so standard measures of success don’t really work with them but they both have most of what they want out of life and I would say that is a success.
I feel I have actually reversed the trend my grandparents started. I don’t work nearly has hard as they did or as my parents. I coast a lot. I work at a mid-level for a living without much if really anything to retire on. I am mostly getting by. But I had a mostly good family life, good schooling, I was given my first car, I have a college education and paid for my own Masters, I had the luxury of taking whatever classes I wanted, I have lived in Europe, traveled around, moved across states, had choices on where to work, I have lots of stuff and the ability to get more things I want, I am surrounded by people that are like me and accept me as I am (My type of people TM), I have the opportunity to do inner work on my psyche and can afford it. There are lots of things that qualify at Privilege and I was given them. Because of them, I have tools to make other Privilege things happen. Like getting a 20hr a week job at 50K a year practicing programs I only know a little bit and want to know more.
I don’t know what the problem with having this Privilege. I don’t know why I should give any of it up. Some of the things I am reading say that Privilege people don’t see Privilege because they want to hang onto their privilege.
I haven’t seen anything that says what you should do if you find that you are Privileged that is a positive action. The things I have seen have come from a defensive position and don’t do anything to move people forward, only to hold people back.
I am very aware that others don’t have the benefits I did. I can’t give them mine. I can only use mine to help them get their own, but they do have to work for it themselves. It can’t just be handed to them. I think that is why I am not as “successful” as my grandparents or parents. Most of my privileges were handed to me. And if someone with less privilege gets the opportunity to acquire some of elements of privilege through their interest in them and work towards them, then they are going to be able to run circles around me. And more power to them.
I used to volunteer tutoring kids from the Tenderloin. These are kids that aren’t given many of the opportunities I had. I was looking forward to sharing my enthusiasm for math and science with others and to work with them to deliver the information in a way that they understood instead of the way people want to teach it. Sadly, it was more babysitting and fighting with them to get them to do their basic homework that I was discouraged and stopped volunteering. I am not a teacher or a motivator. I am really good at providing information if people are interested in it. That means I am only useful to those that meet me in the middle.
I can’t correct the fact that some people did not have a good start. I can’t hand out what I have been given for my start. I can offer a hand and support to those that want to be more than where they began. As long as I am not attacked or pulled down, I am usually happy to do what I can.
(To be balanced, I have to say I had some shitty things happen to me growing up as well as all the good. It is all part of my starting point and what I need to work with all the time. Part of the process of living life is to find a way to get around the bad or deal with it and use the good. I find the only use of finding the bad is so you can package it and move it forward. Focusing on it and saying that is why I am in a bad way and then doing nothing about it gets you nothing.)