For a homework assignment, I had to read an article called "What Privilege Really Means (And Doesn't Mean)" that I highly recommend. The simple definition of privilege is "a set of unearned benefits given to people who fit into a specific social group." However, the word privilege is often misinterpreted because it is thought that a group of people hates another group. That's just not the case.
As Maisha Z. Johnson, the writer of the article would put it, "If you get upset when someone points out that you have privilege, that probably means you don't fully understand what privilege is."
My own understanding of privilege is completely different compared to others. Everyone has a different experience with it. No one is able to understand the other side of the wall of each others' privilege, even me. I grew up, not worrying about where my next meal is going to come from. Losing my dad and I had things paid for me so I could focus on my education.
I wouldn't ever understand if someone couldn't eat for days, worked multiple jobs to pay for everything or have both parents. However, I could have some similarities with others but the understanding of each others' privilege is not the same.
The concept of privilege is correlated with one's identity. I'm Vietnamese, Buddhist, and a female college student. I feel like the majority of the things that I identify as being considered as a minority and targeted by society. It may be the 21st century but nothing has really changed. Women may be able to vote and African Americans can do what they want but honestly thinking about, this wouldn't even happen if we didn't have laws. I mean, this should be given as a right, not a privilege. If it happened to the dominant population, they would think the same way but they would never experience it because it's never going to happen. So for you to experience what a minority goes through, here's how the world is through my eyes.
Since I live in the United States, Christianity is dominant in this country. I went to a preschool where I learned everything about Christianity. However, I was never truly taught of Buddhism until I started going to temple. It seemed that I was battling my idea of what religion I wanted to implicate in my life. If I chose Christianity, then I would fit into society but wouldn't feel like myself but if I didn't, I felt as if people would view me in a way that I was going against Christians. I mean, a few days ago, there was an organization that went up to people and asked a question: do you believe in Jesus? Why or why not? If you said you don't because you believe in a different religion, it felt like you were being judged. Here's the truth: EVERY religion is the same, the messages that it is presented but the way it is taught and developed is different.
Growing up Asian, I feel like the majority of other populations view me as a target for them to take down. There are many times where I see in the news of people being attacked because of the language are speaking. Thankfully, I never had this experience but I think that having this hatred causes regret for those who grew up in speaking two different languages.
In my personal experience, I grew up speaking English and Vietnamese. When I was younger, it was easier for me to understand and speak Vietnamese because my parents speak Vietnamese as their first language. Going through this experience, it made it difficult for me to comprehend what was happening in school. Oftentimes, I was made fun of or told by a teacher that I need to work harder in school, implying that I should just speak more English. These reasons caused me to shut my mouth. However, having the privilege of speaking a different language is something that should be celebrated not attacked but I never really recognized it at a young age because I just wanted to fit in. I rarely spoke Vietnamese, afraid that someone will throw hatred towards my way or makes comments about my communication skills.
Now, I realize that I have regrets about that because it's difficult to communicate with my non-English speaking relatives and my understanding of Vietnamese is slowly slipping away. Now, all I can think about is having a society that I was born in, push this idea of being a "perfect" American.
Let me be real for a second: We may not notice anything because we are immune to it and it's heartbreaking to think that minorities can sometimes be ashamed of who they are. However, embracing ourselves and others can allow for everyone to flourish and stop this cycle of madness.