How Privileged Are You?
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Understanding and being aware of Your Privilege is a key factor in the race for equality

Privilege is not something to be ashamed of, but aware of—and can be an important tool to champion equality and acceptance.

Understanding and being aware of Your Privilege is a key factor in the race for equality
Photo by from Pexels

Last semester I was able to attend a panel on racism and privilege. Going into it, I expected that there would be a diverse audience, and I was excited at the prospect. I wasn't really prepared, however, for the feeling that comes with being in the minority—and this experience was as much of a wake-up call as the discussion itself.

It wasn't as if the environment wasn't friendly—as soon as I walked in the door I was welcomed and offered a seat. Nevertheless, I was acutely aware of the fact that I was white, and that not many other participants were. Despite knowing I was welcome, I felt slightly uncomfortable. It was a feeling of intrusion, perhaps, or of not belonging. I couldn't help but wonder what the rest of the attendees thought of my presence there.

It didn't take long for me to kick myself for these thoughts. There I was, feeling out of place, despite the fact that I attended a university with a white undergraduate population of about 25,000 (out of about 41,000). I listened as a few audience members opened up about their experiences occupying predominantly white spaces, noting that they had to constantly be aware of the way that other people perceived them (part of a concept known as "double consciousness"). What would it mean to have that level of hyper self-awareness all the time? I could enter grocery stores and movie theaters and classrooms without giving a second thought to the way that other people would regard my presence there—I had never realized that this was a privilege not everyone had.

That brought us to the topic of our discussion: privilege. A high level of privilege doesn't necessarily mean the presence of blatant benefits, but the absence of certain challenges—and therefore often goes unnoticed by the people that are most privileged. A heterosexual white male is much less likely to be subject to discrimination in social and work settings, and therefore may not realize the extent to which this affects female and minority groups.

There are various factors that determine your level of privilege, including your gender, socioeconomic status, sexuality, education, and race. As a straight white female currently pursuing her higher education, I checked off many of the boxes. I couldn't help but feel guilty that: a) I was born into a family and situation that granted me unearned social and economic advantages, and b) not everyone else in the room could say the same.

Acknowledging your privilege, however, doesn't mean that you should feel ashamed of it. You cannot control the amount of privilege that you are born with, and the fact that certain demographic factors determine one's level of privilege is a product of a flawed society, not you as an individual. Recognizing your privilege (and others' lack of) can help us, as a society, to rectify the system that awards advantages to people based on factors they can't control.

In a perfect society nobody would inherit privilege based on the color of their skin, their gender, or the people that they love. Unfortunately, we don't live in such a time or place. That's why it's so important to acknowledge and understand your privilege—and to use the opportunities it grants you to champion equality and acceptance.

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

Leaving My Backpack In The Library

Views about society and the stranger sitting right across from me


As a college student, my backpack is an extension of myself in many ways. It contains my notes, pens, and computer vital for my success in college. It contains the snacks and water bottle I need to survive long days on campus. It also contains the "in-case" items that help put my mind at rest if I forgot something from home: extra hair ties, masks, and that backup-backup snack. With so much in my backpack important to me and my life on campus, it is no wonder that I can get apprehensive about it when it is not with me or in my line of sight. And that makes me wonder.

Keep Reading... Show less

5 Cool Gadgets To Make Your Car Smart

Don't let this stop you from making your car smart. You can change the one you have using smart gadgets that transform your car into a smart car.


Cars are no longer just a mode of transport, where you only worry about the engine and how beautiful its interior is. These days, everyone wants to make their cars smarter, those with advanced technology systems. It makes sense for several reasons. It can make your vehicle more efficient and safer when you need to drive.

Keep Reading... Show less

The Inevitable Truth of Loss

You're going to be okay.


As we humans face loss and grief on a daily basis, it's challenging to see the good in all the change. Here's a better perspective on how we can deal with this inevitable feeling and why it could help us grow.

Keep Reading... Show less

'Venom: Let There Be Carnage' Film Review

Tom Hardy and Woody Harrelson lead a tigher, more fun sequel to 2018's 'Venom'

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment – YouTube

When Sony announced that Venom would be getting a stand-alone movie, outside of the Tom Holland MCU Spider-Man films, and intended to start its own separate shared universe of films, the reactions were generally not that kind. Even if Tom Hardy was going to take on the role, why would you take Venom, so intrinsically connected to Spider-Man's comic book roots, and remove all of that for cheap action spectacle?

Keep Reading... Show less

'The Addams Family 2' Film Review

The sequel to the 2019 reboot is an enjoyable, but unremarkable start to the Halloween movie season

Photo Credit: MGM – YouTube

There's a reason why the Addams Family have become icons of the American cartoon pantheon (although having one of the catchiest theme songs in television history doesn't hinder them).

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments