Unprivileged on Paper
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Politics and Activism

Unprivileged on Paper

An "unprivileged" millennial examines her own privilege

Unprivileged on Paper

Back in February I was allowed to honor of being a senior facilitator for EMPOWER; a leadership retreat hosted by my university's Women's Center. One of the many activities involved in the process was a close examination of the concept of privilege. On a nominal level I would not be what society would refer to as a privileged individual for a few reasons; first and foremost I have diagnosed disabilities, second I am a POC, third I am a woman and fourth I am of a low-income, single parent background. However, after doing the exercise I've realized (to my complete surprise) that my identities actually fall within a spectrum of privileged groups more often than not.

Here are some ways that I am privileged that I hadn't really thought about until recently:

1. I am cisgendered.

2. I am heterosexual.

3. I am Christian.

4. I am not physically handicapped and my disabilities will not keep me from receiving gainful employment or leading an independent life.

5. I am physically attractive.

6. Thin privilege (even though I don't always believe I am thin).

7. I am ethnically ambiguous; which means in many ways while I am half black, I benefit from white privilege.

8. I am privately educated (at the university level).

9. I have a college degree.

10. Despite being low-income I have traveled to 9 different countries.

In light of the most recent events in this country, having impacted some of our most vulnerable populations; I feel obligated to speak up about the huge role privilege can play in terms of things as trivial as how you are treated as a patron in a store to more serious matters like whether or not your life is valued by society. As a woman who is black but has not experienced the same levels of disparate treatment as my mother, my friends, or neighbors it has been easy (as much as I hate to admit it) to distance myself from many issues this nation is facing in terms of race-relations and other areas of disproportionate power dynamics.

Due to my privilege and my being complacent until very recently in acknowledging it I do not know what it's like see a police officer and pray that I will live to see another day, truth to tell all of my interactions to date with law enforcement have been positive. Due to my privilege, while I may have had to shop at the Dollar Store and worry about rent being paid on-time to my small apartment in a not-so-great area; I have never actually been evicted and have no recollections of being homeless. I've also never been hungry. Because of my privilege, in the US I will never be singled out as a terrorist due to my religious practices and targeted accordingly. Due to my privilege I can go to almost any store and reasonably expect to find clothing that will fit my body type without having to spend extra money. Because of my privilege no one will deny me the right to pee where I feel safest. I can also walk down the street with a romantic partner and feel safe, never being told that because of who I am sexually attracted to I am going to hell.

I would be lying to myself if I were to say I have not struggled in life; who hasn't? My life has been anything but easy for reasons I can and cannot control in spite of it all, I can admit that a lot of the privileges granted to me by life have been unearned. This is not to say that I am undeserving of things I've worked hard for, because I have worked my ass off to achieve the things; I have but so have other people who won't get half of what I have. This is not to minimize my own struggles with family dynamics, low resources, anxiety, depression, bullying, learning disabilities and a rare neurological disorder. This essay is simply me as a multi-ethnic, disabled, low-income, woman examining her privilege for the first time instead of denying that it exists.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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