If you're a white woman not on welfare, you have privilege.
If you're a black man working at Tim Horton's, you have privilege.
If you're a white/Asian/Black woman on welfare, you have privilege, too.
If you speak English fluently, you have privilege.
We all have some privilege in certain situations.
Figure this the F**K out, please.
Maybe this video will help explain some things about privilege - not entirely but at least in part:
Maybe it will help to do this:"I have more privilege than..." and "In turn, I have less privilege than..." - rather than "I do/do not have privilege." (it's not an either or deal - everyone has some and everyone loses/is without some privilege in certain situations)
I enjoy less privilege than many people but I'm a white passing, straight passing cis female who is Indigenous and queer, so I have more privilege than:
- Women of colour
- Some men of colour
- Some trans persons
- Almost all children
- Almost all animals
- I have more privilege in most areas than my Elders (they look Indigenous but I can pass as white)
Yes, I know some of my privilege is not fair.
Yes, I have been upbraided, corrected, scolded, accused and bitched at about this - and I have apologized for some things I might not have truly needed to apologize for because - this is the process for becoming a decent ally to anyone with less privilege than I experience.
Yes, I'm willing to examine my privilege again when asked.
(what is privilege in one situation may not be in another, so I am willing to examine my privilege and seek understanding in new situations)
Whoops - backtrack to the part about - I have apologized before even when, by colonial, current 'norm' standards, I didn't really need to say sorry...
I DID need to apologize, however, if I wanted/want to be a decent ally. I DO need to apologize in many ally situations. Here's how this works:
I need to apologize and mean it because when accused of taking someone else's resources because I am white and they are not, this is TRUE. It isn't generally that I am actively or purposely taking/using the resources one-without-privilege doesn't receive but IT IS TRUE that I receive and someone else doesn't. (my argument to defend my motives/intent doesn't cover what actual reality is). I am in a state of privilege and gain even if it's a situation whereby I am not able to spot this oppressive situation sooner and get a systemic wrong to provide this person with equal resources as I get. Or if I don't immediately give my resources to them (sometimes I don't - I need resources, too... it's not fair and I am not always fair, either).
Also, where I don't always have power to make change immediately, I need to apologize, anyway, and at least LOOK AT THE DIFFERENCES and honour/own knowledge that another person's lack is present in lieu of my receipt of same resources.
They (who are noting my privilege and their lack of same) are ALLOWED TO BE ANGRY. People can be ANGRY without being abusive. People CAN be ANGRY with me when I represent (either by consent or by proximity) the/a group of privilege who is making their resource acquisition unfair. I don't get to chose/change THEIR response - I can select my response and if I want to be a decent ally, the response is TO APOLOGIZE AND LISTEN.
Until I apologize, nobody has to be in a conversation with me and hear me defend that "it's not my fault." After I say that "I'm sorry that happened/is happening with you and I'm looking at my part in this so I can correct wrongs where I have the power to do so", I don't get to just walk away, either. To follow up, I get to listen some more to the experience of another person I am trying to be an ally to/with.
I'm never going to be a perfect ally and I cannot ever name myself an actual ally - I am in the works, in the process of learning to be an ally. Other people from areas of less privilege actually decide if I am their ally or not.
That's the other thing... FFS people with privilege, stop giving yourself the title of "Ally" without earning it...
MAYBE THIS IS AN ISSUE:
A certain fragility exists in many who are accustomed to much privilege. This complicates matters of equality, equity, access and fairness toward others when fragility overtakes the process of learning to hear vulnerable voices. Letting fragility run the show undermines learning to be instructed by vulnerable or different voices (not all people who get marginalized are particularly vulnerable - but they do get overpowered, overshadowed until all that can be noticed is "the norm.")
These voices of different, oppressed, vulnerable, and 'othered' people are TEACHING voices, not enemy voices. Admittedly, some conversations involving oppressed persons and oppression are DIFFICULT - but dammit - step up and put your fragility on hold (it will still be there later if you really want to go into it) so you can listen if you want to be an ally. Heal and learn on YOUR time, not another person's time.
How to do this "putting fragility on hold," you ask?
Well, it's different for everyone, but it starts with awareness and willingness to stop defending yourself. When you defend your position with another person in the room who is needing you as an ally, you further marginalize them. (hey, I get it, this might not be your intent - but it's the EFFECT that defensive statements cause in this situation). You're saying "Hey I want to listen but I'm still prioritizing my importance over yours so I'm backing away, I'm fragile, I'm not able to hear all of what you say, me, me, me and it's not my fault--" <---- versions of those things.
It is not the responsibility of those you have marginalized to teach you about your privilege and how you marginalize them. If you're AWARE of the ways of marginalization and your or systemic parts in creating the imbalance(s) and you're not, in some way, involved in making matters right, you are oppressing/marginalizing other persons.
I am, too - even though I do social justice work and peer advocacy. I am still responsible, in part, for some oppression of others. I have no defense. I'm working on being aware in all my relationships and interactions (which is really, REALLY hard) and, where I find I can take corrective action, I do. As often as possible. Some days are better than others but I have to get up and make a decision about this - daily! It's a real decision, action, and skill to be an ally-oriented person (instead of a top-down power person or hierarchy person or a follower, etc). If you wake up one day and don't take action, don't call yourself an Ally - don't get involved with work that requires these decisions, actions, skills and the follow through.
Some days, I'm not an ally... Some days, nobody would call me an ally at all. On those days, I'm not up to the tasks, decision-making, actions or mind-set. I need breaks. I'm not perfect and you don't have to be either...
On days you do step up to work as an ally, you do need to work hard and seriously at this; learn to apologize and mean it, listen carefully, put yourself in other peoples' shoes when they talk about their experiences, ask others what THEY think/want to do, how THEY think things can proceed, and be prepared and able to hear some things with an open mind that will be hard to hear and that you will NOT like.
It is not the responsibility of those "othered" to help you deal with your feelings - tho' MANY of the 'othered' are more than willing to help once their voices are heard. Many will stick around to check in with you because they KNOW what it's like to feel and be hurt. Just don't expect this assistance and know that if you get it, you haven't actually earned it - it is about the character of 'the other' being human, not about you.