Pride and Privilege
Hi. My name is Meaghan Hammarsten. I am a straight Caucasian female. I was raised by Caucasian parents in suburbia, and I went to a private Lutheran School. My parents are honest, hard-working people; and I had a very easy life growing up.
I am privileged, and I know it. Half my family will shake their heads, and say, "No, you're not. Just because you're white, doesn't mean you're privileged." I understand the sentiment behind "Just because you're white, doesn't mean you're privileged". There are white people who live a very rough life, and it is no less sad than people of minority living a very rough life. After all, we're all just people. I know the term "white privilege" offends a lot of white people; and I believe the repulsion towards feeling villainized fuels arguments against privilege. Try to see the words for what they are, and not attach emotions to it. From what I can tell in observation, the cat's game arguments on this subject are largely the direct result of semantics. Semantics play a huge role in miscommunication; so I'm going to do the best I can to clear up what I mean when I speak about "privilege".
Privilege is a definable word, not an idea. I understand some people may be confused or upset with the word "privilege" becoming a hashtag; however, the actual definition of privilege is accurate. It is defined as "a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people."
Obviously, there are certain people who have special rights, advantages, or immunity granted. For example: celebrities and other wealthy people have, historically, not been penalized for crimes as severely as other civilians who have committed similar crimes. How many times have we seen that on the news?
Being privileged does not mean you don't work hard for what you have. For example, it means you had the opportunity to get the job you work hard at, when other people simply did not have that opportunity because of their color, creed, sex, etc. There are humans that will not hire other humans because of these reasons. There is quantifiable data proving this; and the data most certainly proves that white people aren't discriminated against like people of color. I have been present in meetings in which upper management discussed someone's ethnicity as a reason to not hire them. I have been "privileged" to have opportunities that were not afforded to others due to discrimination.
Being privileged does not mean you have not faced hardships. We all do. Being privileged means the hardships you face aren't in direct relationship to the color of your skin, your sexuality, religion, sex, etc. There are humans who intentionally make life difficult or uncomfortable for ethnic minorities, females, gays, religious groups, etc. If you are a person of majority in this country, you are "privileged" to not face hardships solely because you are a minority.
Being privileged does not mean you do not experience discrimination. We are all subject to discrimination. There are privileges and disadvantages everyone experiences; but being privileged means the benefits greatly outweigh the disadvantages. It's also worth noting that discrimination is not a crippling menace in your life unless you allow it to be, for the most part. We can always overcome; but for some people, overcoming is arduous at best.
Being privileged does not mean you are a bad person.
Being privileged does not mean you should feel guilty or ashamed for who you are. It also doesn't mean you are personally to blame. Being privileged simply means you have opportunities and advantages solely because of your color, creed, sex, etc. Just because you have "white priviledge", doesn't mean you are prejudiced or discriminatory.
Generally speaking, as a female, I will not make as much money as a male, working the same job with the same job performance. Males make more money than females, simply because they are male. I am not attaching emotion, opinion, or grievances to the above statement- it's simply true. There is quantifiable data proving that it is true. I am not saying I cannot overcome that truth; that it keeps me up at night, that I hate men because of it, or that expect sympathy. I'm saying that it is simply true. Privilege is a very real and true thing.
No "ifs", "ands", or "buts"- privilege just exists.
When people argue that white privilege doesn't exist, I'm baffled- this isn't Santa Claus we're talking about here, there is quantifiable proof of targeted discrimination. It's like a little kid with a massive, bleeding wound telling his parents, "I have this cut, I'm bleeding!", and they say, "What? No, you're fine, stop being a baby."
Clearly, this wound exists, it is threatening this child's survival, and this child has every right to freak out. With the presence of majority based privilege being ignored, a group of humans' survival is being disregarded.
This isn't an attack on white people, this isn't an attack on anything. I simply aim to clarify the term "privilege" as a definable, objective term; because the aversion towards that term makes it difficult for some people to see the reality past it. Until we accept that privilege is real, and stop bypassing reality, progress towards a more humane future will remain stunted.