Do You Have Privilege?

Do You Have Privilege?

How to know whether you have privilege, or not.
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I didn’t understand what privilege was for a long time. What rights did they have that we did not? Was it easier for Caucasians and straight males to get jobs, to attain and economic mobility? How did I even know if I had privilege?

It’s a difficult concept to understand, and it is not one that we can fully grasp quickly. I truly only begun to understood its magnitude after reading Peggy McIntosh’s White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences through Work in Women’s Studies, when she described white privilege as “an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, assurances, tools, maps, guides, codebooks, passports, visas, clothes, compass, emergency gear and blank checks.

Invisible. Weightless.

Those with privilege are blind to it, unaware that their knapsacks are fitted snugly on their shoulders. They assume that everyone carries the same backpack, equipped with the tools and provisions necessary to survive and navigate the world.

Now, what are the literal manifestations of these metaphorical compasses and maps? How do they present themselves in our day-to-day lives?

Privilege is being able to walk into the nearest Walgreens and buy a Band-Aid in your skin color.

Privilege means you can flip on the television and easily find a program with a person of your race as the main character.

Privilege is being able to shop, undisturbed, in a grocery store without having someone constantly ask you if you need help because they think you’re stealing.

Privilege is not constantly, uncannily being the victim of a “random search” at the airport each time you travel.

Privilege means you are not worried about your actions and decisions reflecting on your race, as a whole.

Privilege is feeling comfortable keeping your hood on at night, without fear of being seen as a thug or criminal.

Privilege is not panicking when a police officer approaches you when you haven’t done anything wrong.

Privilege means when you get accepted to college or get a job, your success will not be attributed to “Affirmative Action” instead of your academic merit.

It means you can leave and enter this country at ease, without having to worry about a policy or ban affecting your ability to return home. It means you can walk into a hospital and feel assured that you will be treated with proper respect. It means you can hold hands with the person you love in public, without fear of becoming victim to slurs. It means you have never had your race compared to animals, like apes or monkeys.

It is far more simple to stay blind to your privilege, to ignore it, to let the knapsack stay invisible. However, it requires a great deal of self-awareness and candidness to let yourself feel the straps of the backpack digging into your shoulders, to thank your good fortune that you were born with it.

I am not privileged. As an Indian-American woman, I was subject to harmful stereotypes. I was told that I could never be as intelligent or successful as a man. I was told that Indian-American women should aspire to be wives and mothers, not engineers. I was told that girls could not like sports, that Indians are dirty and smell like curry, that Hinduism wasn’t even a real religion, that people of my race were stealing all the American jobs, that Indians were only capable of buying local 7/11s and Dairy Queens.

My race was judged by the television characters of Baljeet in Phineas and Ferb, Raj in The Big Bang Theory, and Ravi in Jesse. Each one of these characters had an embarrassingly inaccurate, thick accent and a flat personality. They were socially inept and scientifically inclined, and I only recently realized how much more representation my, and all other non-white races, need.

Where are the female Indian basketball players, lawyers, and activists in television? Why are the only Indian characters in television manifestations of insulting stereotypes?

I am not privileged because it’s pretty hard to find Band-Aids that match my skin color. I am not privileged because I take extra care to deodorize and wear perfume because I don’t want people thinking that Indians are smelly. I am not privileged because I like talking on the phone because the person on the other end can’t see my skin; I don't have an accent, so I sound like a white person, and I’m treated as such.

That being said, I am privileged.

I experience the benefits of middle-class, heterosexual, cis privilege. I have never worried about not having food on the table, about discussing my romantic interests with my friends, about filling out my gender on surveys, about being able to afford to attend university, to buy a new winter coat. I did not have to be concerned about gang violence in my neighborhood. I did not have to drop out of school to have a job to support my family. I was blessed with a supportive community and above all, a supportive family, who assured that I had a comfortable, shielded upbringing. They told me I could be anything, do anything, regardless of my economic situation, my race, or my sex.

I never stressed about having my hood on at night, being followed in a grocery store, or of unjustly losing my life to the hands of the police.

I am privileged, I am not privileged. I can only beg you to ask yourself the same question,

Are you privileged?

Cover Image Credit: Heavy

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37 Things Growing Up in the South Taught You

Where the tea is sweet, but the people are sweeter.
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1. The art of small talking.
2. The importance of calling your momma.
3. The beauty of sweet tea.
4. How to use the term “ma'am” or “sir” (that is, use it as much as possible).
5. Real flowers are way better than fake flowers.
6. Sometimes you only have two seasons instead of four.
7. Fried chicken is the best kind of chicken.
8. When it comes to food, always go for seconds.
9. It is better to overdress for Church than underdress.
10. Word travels fast.
11. Lake days are better than beach days.
12. Handwritten letters never go out of style.
13. If a man doesn’t open the door for you on the first date, dump him.
14. If a man won’t meet your family after four dates, dump him.
15. If your family doesn’t like your boyfriend, dump him.
16. Your occupation doesn’t matter as long as you're happy.
17. But you should always make sure you can support your family.
18. Rocking chairs are by far the best kind of chairs.
19. Cracker Barrel is more than a restaurant, it's a lifestyle.
20. Just 'cause you are from Florida and it is in the south does not make you Southern.
21. High School football is a big deal.
22. If you have a hair dresser for more than three years, never change. Trust her and only her.
23. The kids in your Sunday school class in third grade are also in your graduating class.
24. Makeup doesn’t work in the summer.
25. Laying out is a hobby.
26. Moms get more into high school drama than high schoolers.
27. Sororities are a family affair.
28. You never know how many adults you know 'til its time to get recommendation letters for rush.
29. SEC is the best, no question.
30. You can't go wrong buying a girl Kendra Scotts.
31. People will refer to you by your last name.
32. Biscuits and gravy are bae.
33. Sadie Robertson is a role model.
34. If it is game day you should be dressed nice.
35. If you pass by a child's lemonade stand you better buy lemonade from her. You're supporting capitalism.
36. You are never too old to go home for just a weekend… or just a meal.
37. You can’t imagine living anywhere but the South.



































Cover Image Credit: Grace Valentine

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When Are We Going To Admit That White People Have The Worst Relationship With Law Enforcement

Minding ones own business is a great stress reliever.

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In March, Stephon Clark was shot dead by police after a neighbor reported vandalism. Clark, who was found not to the vandal, was walking through his own grandmother's backyard when he was shot in the back by police, holding only a cellphone.

In April, two black men waiting to have a business meeting in a Philly Starbucks were arrested after an employee called police on them. In May, a black Yale law student had campus police called on her by a white student after she fell asleep in a chair. Jennifer Schulte, A.K.A BBQ Becky called the police on a black family barbequing in an Oakland park. Alison Ettel, A.K.A Permit Patty pretended to call the police to scare an 8-year-old black girl who was selling water outside of her mother's apartment complex. A 12-year-old boy in Ohio had the police called on him after he accidentally mowed a few inches into a neighbors lawn.

Just recently a Washington priest called the police on a black funeral and threw them out of his church, body-and-all, after someone accidentally knocked over a chalice. Adam Bloom, A.K.A Pool Patrol Peter called the police on Jasmine Edwards and her son at a community swimming pool in her complex after claiming she didn't live there despite her having a key card to use the facility. And a personal favorite, Donisha Prendergast, the granddaughter of the late-great reggae artist, Bob Marley, was swarmed by Southern California police while checking out of an Airbnb after a nosey neighbor reported them for burglary.

What is painfully obvious is that white people have a tendency to call 911 like it's customer service for life's mundane issues. And when I use the phrase "life's mundane issue," I mean the fact that some white people seem to take issue with black people living their lives and minding their own business. Maybe they are depressed, maybe they are suffering the loss of a loved one, maybe they inadvertently talked themselves into a bad mood, but none of these are excuses for plotting to have someone killed.

And please don't think I am being dramatic or jumping the gun. Police have the inclination to shoot first and ask questions never when they are dealing with black people. Ask the family of Stephon Clark, and countless other black men and women slain due to mistaken identity or shaky, trigger-happy police officers. And in the case of Permit Patty, this woman used the fact that she knew little black children were terrified of law enforcement to get an 8-year-old to stop selling her $1 water bottles. Evil.

Now, I'm not particularly a fan of the police, but I would assume that they don't appreciate being called out of their local Dunkin Donuts every time a Becky feels the need to flex her outdated Android and call 911 on every other black person they see.

But what I want to know is when these police officers are going to start arresting folks for wasting their time and resources? I know these folks must be talking up the situation while on the phone with the 911 operator, because I can't imagine these operators sending out cops for every little thing, especially not when I have personally called the police for a legitimate reason and had them not show up.

Actually, I once called 911 after witnessing a car wreck and no one picked up the phone. No joke, I had to hang up and call back twice before someone picked up. But come to think of it, I'm sure they were just busy comforting some terrified white woman calling about a black man wearing socks at the pool.

"Yes, hello. My name is Becky. There is a black man here violently wielding a lawnmower and destroying my property. He looks suspicious and I am afraid for my safety. Also, Make America Great Again!"

And when these police officers get to the "scene" and realize they are being asked to arrest someone for using gas instead of coal (or whatever) on a grill, I really wonder what is going through their minds.

Nevermind the little old lady getting mugged down the street, BBQ Becky's pressing matter must come first.

Non-emergent line or not, if there are penalties for filing a false police report, why are there no penalties for knowingly lying to 911 operators about the severity of a situation and why are there no laws against calling the police for stupid-ass reasons?

Cover Image Credit:

Michelle Dione Snider / YouTube

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