For decades in the United states many groups have protested for equal treatment and civil rights. From race to gender to sexuality, many movements and fights for equality have swept across the US. With so many injustices for marginalized and oppressed groups, I think we need to acknowledge who the privileged groups are. In other words, who are the dominant and advantaged groups from different aspects of human rights and discrimination.
We all have a role or play a part in the way ourselves and our fellow people are treated. If you think that you don't have a role or a voice, think again. Here are some groups of people who need to check their privilege and it to help level the playing field.
*This article is based on my personal observations, experiences, and opinions*
Men, from birth you're viewed to have more valid logical opinions, make more money, and have more power than women. You didn't ask for this, I didn't ask for this, but that's the role society has forced upon us. Check your privilege! Acknowledge the fact that a woman makes 77 cents per your dollar and that in business or political settings your identification is more dominant and treated more respectively. And please don't try to control what women choose to do with things that happen inside of their bodies. You are allowed to have an opinion, but please reflect on your privilege whenever you form or express those opinions first. Work towards change. Work towards safety and equality for women.
Even with marriage equality now a national law, we still live in a hetero-normative society. What does that mean? Heterosexual couples or people are socially more acceptable and portrayed as what is “traditional” or what should be seen and displayed in terms of affection and sexuality. Check your privilege! The LGBTQIQ/non-heterosexuals are underrepresented in the media/cinema scene and everyday life. Even with nontraditional couples more increasingly displayed on TV 25% of people are still uncomfortable with gay scenes while "straight" sex scenes are considered normal and play without question. Acknowledge the fact that your sexuality is viewed as a default. Work towards change. Work towards equality for different sexualities. Help make “the closet” a place for clothes and shoes, not people.
Cisgender basically means that you identify with the gender assigned to your sex (born with a penis, identify as boy/man; born with a vagina, identify as girl/woman). If you identify with the gender assigned to you at birth check your privilege! Just because a gender is assigned at birth and you are comfortable with your gender does not mean that everyone feels or conforms the same way. If a person chooses to conform or transform to a different gender or no gender at all that's their choice and their business. You don't have a say in who a person feel they are or choose to become. Respect their identity as you expect them to respect yours. Work towards change. Work toward safety and equality for transgender/non-cisgender people.
This is probably the most prevalent topic in terms of privilege. Thanks to systematic and institutional racism white people are treated and represented as the most prominent group in America. Politically, socially, economically, historically and especially in the media white people are more (positively) represented than any other race in America and this leads to more advantages and opportunities for white people. Check your privilege! Acknowledge that race is (likely to play) a factor in your advantages or the disadvantages of a person of another race and help to erase the gaps and barriers between races on all of these platforms. Work towards change. Work toward equality, equal representation, the treatment of white people and the treatment of people of color/ non-white people.
*Colorblindness and dismissal of a person’s race is not a solution. This only erases a person’s identity and in fact helps racism become more prevalent as this silences the issue of racism.
I'm not saying you didn't work hard to earn your spot at your university. But the fact that you can pay, somehow, thousands of dollars every year to attend a higher education institution is a privilege. You may be in debt, but the eligibility to take out thousands in loans, qualify for grants or scholarships to attend lectures and have so many resources at your feet is something many people aren't capable of or fortunate enough to experience. Education, on all levels, should be a right, but until America plays catch up, check your privilege and help work towards better education opportunities for everyone.
Citizens of the US
Even with all of the inequalities in our society US citizens are a privileged group - check that privilege. We are all born with basic human rights, constitutionally, that give us the freedom of speech and expression and to form our own identities. As unfortunate as the fact is, human civil rights and freedom of choice are a privilege that many people don't have in foreign countries. We often feel entitled to invite ourselves to other countries without a problem or hesitation whenever we are upset with our government yet want to close the door on foreigners seeking refuge. Check your privilege! We should use our voices, our constitutional rights to change things in this country for the betterment of its citizens and those who seek our support rather than to scream and run away whenever we personally aren't satisfied but yet stay silent, otherwise.
P.S. I don't ever hear anyone complain about this, but why is it that citizens of the US are the only people commonly referenced as “American” when there are 34 other countries that are territories of the Americas?
I didn't realize for a while that nearly everything is structured for convenient use by right handed people, from school supplies to the structure of houses. Check your privilege. Don't try to silence a left-handed person who complains about scissors hurting their hand or how uncomfortable school desks are to sit in, or the struggle of having dirty hands from writing in pencil. This may seem petty (especially to the rest of the issues listed) but the world is made for right handed people.
Let's work towards left handed desks in classrooms. (If you're right-handed in a class with some left-handed desks/seats, please don't sit in it unless it's your last option. And please don't move it to the back!)
Non-Intersectionals (A reminder)
Sadly, as you can see, there are many privileged groups of people in America which means that there are many oppressed groups of people alike. But these discriminations don't affect all members the same especially when a person or group is intersectional. For example a black woman will face different forms of oppression and discrimination than a white woman or even a man of color. On the other end of the spectrum white (cisgender) males are more (positively) represented in both the media and positions of power. This article from the Washington Post on US Congress demographics is a good example of this intersectional privilege. Acknowledge of intersectionality and the effects it has on persons or groups is necessary to identify the differences among us and make the changes and adjustments needed to help us move forward together.
If any of these titles/identities/labels apply to you, acknowledge the privilege you have because of this title. Then, learn how you can be an advocate to help the corresponding oppressed groups, and then fight for the equality of every other oppressed group. If you identify as a member of an oppressed group, don't give up. You have a voice and you matter. Fight for equality for yourself and your peers. Fight for the equal treatment of all groups of people. The first step in this fight is to check your privilege!