When writing about privilege

I am interested in taking apart privilege.

Privilege means that some groups of people have power or benefit based on a history of oppression or discrimination that often has negative outcomes for people not in the privileged group.


Privileges doesn’t exist as an on or off option.

There are so many different groups of people that it’s impossible to not have some sort of privilege. The spectrum of overlapping privileges can be confusing because one of the benefits of privilege is that it is easy to not notice.

When privilege operates on structural levels it can be documented by looking at statistics. For interpersonal examples, the majority of folks who don’t experience privilege can talk about ways that they felt discriminated against in really explicit ways and often in really small, seemingly trivial ways sometimes called called microagressions.

(Vice thinks that the word is stupid but the concept is important – what do you think?)


What to do with privileges.

I don’t remember each of time is met a new layer of privilege but each time it is surprising and frustrating.

Sometimes, it is hard to remember is that privilege isn’t your fault. It feels really personal when someone asks you to recognize a way in which you are benefitting from your privileges! The best thing to do in those moments is to listen. Try to understand what you’re hearing from the perspective of the person who is talking to you.

There is so much work to be done to undo privileges that it can often seem overwhelming. Sometimes it makes me feel like I don’t know where to start but it’s usually best to just listen again.


Dismantling privileges.

The first two steps are recognizing privileges and then listening/learning. The third steps onward don’t go in a line, they move outward in nearly infinite directions because privileges are part of our cultural fabric.

There are a lot of really useful places to start finding more work to do.

If you don’t think privilege is real, please refer to the front page.


Centering privilege

Focusing on privilege seems to serve to reinforce privilege. To push back against it I will work to hold myself accountable to showing a wide range of voices whose lived experience of an ism.

I encourage you to hold me accountable too.

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