Reflections Of A Male Social Work Student On Living With Privilege
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Reflections Of A Male Social Work Student On Living With Privilege

What my experience has taught me my privilege means.

Reflections Of A Male Social Work Student On Living With Privilege
Photo by Jake Ingle on Unsplash

In getting my Bachelors in Social Work, we talk a lot about marginalized, or oppressed people groups. If there are marginalized and oppressed groups of people, then there are those groups who are privileged enough not to experience that oppression. Oppression means a loss of something; rights, economic opportunity, health. Then the other group(s) gain what the other group(s) lost.

Discussions of privilege often turn a lot of people off.

Some claim it doesn’t exist, others claim that if you don’t acknowledge it then you can’t talk about any of the issues we see today. Now I won’t necessarily talk about how to get past all of that, but I can talk about my own experience, how I see my privilege, and how I see it has affected my life. But it’s important to note that this isn’t a journey I find myself at the end of, really, I am at the beginning, but for those of you interested, here I am so far.

When looking at my privilege I am left seeing two categories: things I have gained because of it, and things I lack because of it. I will be looking at my experience through these two lenses. Of gaining things that many people have had taken away from them. And of what burdens I do not have to carry.

When my family came to the United States they used the Homestead Act of 1862 to claim their land.

At first, I thought this was just a fun piece of family history that tied me to the larger American story, but upon further reflection, I couldn’t see it that way anymore. The land my family took had been the land of Native Americans. The government had forced them to leave and then sold it to my family. I’ve heard that some relative of mine still owns it. This is just one example of how my family, and ultimately me, have benefitted from the oppression of another group. It’s hard to think of this as a “fun” piece of family history, although it certainly does say volumes about the history America would like to say about itself.

With that being said, what story do I tell about myself in regards to privilege? This was one of the hardest things for me to grasp, but what I have come to learn is; my privilege is obvious, not just because of thoughts I have, but because of the thoughts I don’t have to have. I have never worried that the person in the other side of the park is staring at me as I am on my run and that I should hold my keys in my hand, just in case I need to defend myself. And I have never felt the fear that I might a close relationship after I tell them my sexual orientation. I don’t walk out the door and feel eyes on me, judging me, because of the color of my skin.

In the end, what I think makes it clear that I am privileged is that for me, this is a discussion, for other people, this is life.

I have the luxury of thinking about this when I choose and learning about it when I feel like it. But if you are born into a marginalized group this isn’t a question of when and how to think about it, it’s a fact of life, something that is carried with you every day.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

college students waiting in a long line in the hallway

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less
a man and a woman sitting on the beach in front of the sunset

Whether you met your new love interest online, through mutual friends, or another way entirely, you'll definitely want to know what you're getting into. I mean, really, what's the point in entering a relationship with someone if you don't know whether or not you're compatible on a very basic level?

Consider these 21 questions to ask in the talking stage when getting to know that new guy or girl you just started talking to:

Keep Reading...Show less

Challah vs. Easter Bread: A Delicious Dilemma

Is there really such a difference in Challah bread or Easter Bread?

loaves of challah and easter bread stacked up aside each other, an abundance of food in baskets

Ever since I could remember, it was a treat to receive Easter Bread made by my grandmother. We would only have it once a year and the wait was excruciating. Now that my grandmother has gotten older, she has stopped baking a lot of her recipes that require a lot of hand usage--her traditional Italian baking means no machines. So for the past few years, I have missed enjoying my Easter Bread.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments