On Privilege, and Learning How To Avoid Using It To Step On Others
Posted by Shawna Jacques
(This post began on Twitter.)
This post is for anyone who has privilege and interacts with people who have a lower level of privilege than them.
A thought: when raised in privilege w/ things mostly being fair, it can be easy to get defensive, and even angry, when people for whom things aren’t fair get angry about it and treat you unfairly. “After all,” you may think, “it wasn’t *me* that oppressed them.” Whether or not this is true is irrelevant. The best thing I can say is this: Get through it, stop talking, and listen to what they are saying. You’ve had the luxury of not having to think of the things your level of privilege entails. They haven’t. Feel what you feel, sure, but don’t make your defensiveness and anger their problem. The unfairness they are experiencing may not be your personal fault, but that doesn’t mean their anger is allowed to be erased by that.
Something I learned in the last couple of days is that I’m still not very good at this, which is hard to admit. I’m trying to take it one conversation/opportunity to listen at a time.