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Thread: Definition of privilege

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Definition of privilege

    We've had some hearty discussions about "white privilege" here, and I came across this article and definition of privilege which I think is relevant and very provocative:

    My favorite definition of privilege is 'thinking something's not a problem because it's not a problem to you.'
    Here's the article. I think it points to the fact that being fat and happy doesn't give us a pass in terms of trying to understand the plight of others and help however we can. Sometimes that "help" is simply being open to the possibility that your reality is not the only reality.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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    I like it, I know that just touching on privilege can be very uncomfortable. It is not about guilt about who we are but instead accepting another has a reality, and that parts of our reality are supported in media and socially in ways that another person does not have. What really helped me was taking a course online that showed how many forms of racism are institutional, they are systems that have been in place a long time and will be hard to break down.

    We did a lot of work with this at our all-staff training yesterday. I work in a district that is 73% kids of color, yet our teaching staff is about 70% white. There was a large study done about the district and race 2 months ago and it came back really challenging. So we need to start looking deeply at this as a district, being open to having more voices at the table, being willing to hear different stories and respond to them.

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    Simpleton Alan's Avatar
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    What if, rather than focusing on one groups privilege, as if it were an anomaly, we focused on the dis-advantage of those perceived as non-privileged in an effort to change what we perceive as privilege to the norm. Would we lose the luxury of guilt in the process?
    "Things should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler." ~ Albert Einstein

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan View Post
    Would we lose the luxury of guilt in the process?
    I don't feel guilty at all. I see it more of a luxury of gratitude rather than guilt. "To whom much is given much is expected."
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan View Post
    What if, rather than focusing on one groups privilege, as if it were an anomaly, we focused on the dis-advantage of those perceived as non-privileged in an effort to change what we perceive as privilege to the norm. Would we lose the luxury of guilt in the process?
    I agree with changing what is privilege to the norm, there is also with that a process of seeing things that are not part of our experience of the world much more often. So as the demographic of the country changes (the children in the US are getting to 50% minority and are the majority in many areas) we will need to adjust. We cannot make assumptions about each other, or expect that everyone will have the same experience. I am looking forward to more of that actually,

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    I can readily understand that some of us have problems that others do not. Some of us never had a particular problem. Others solved it for themselves. I don't think it requires a lot of wisdom or courage to agree that some of us, by luck or merit, have fewer problems than others. It's certainly childishly easy to understand "your reality is not the only reality". It can't be a groundbreaking revelation to anyone that self-centeredness exists.

    What does the "white privilege" thing come to, apart from redrafting the golden rule using politically correct terminology? Easy to lecture others about. Difficult to apply in daily practice.

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    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan View Post
    What if, rather than focusing on one groups privilege, as if it were an anomaly, we focused on the dis-advantage of those perceived as non-privileged in an effort to change what we perceive as privilege to the norm.
    In a lot of cases that's exactly what people are doing. For instance I don't think BLM wants to up the number of white guys shot by cops to 3.49 times its current level (and 19 times the current level in Houston, Miami and Chicago), they want to reduce the number of black guys shot by cops to a level that's more in line with the white guy level.

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    Senior Member Ultralight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan View Post
    What if, rather than focusing on one groups privilege, as if it were an anomaly, we focused on the dis-advantage of those perceived as non-privileged in an effort to change what we perceive as privilege to the norm. Would we lose the luxury of guilt in the process?
    Do you think white privilege existed in 1955 in Mississippi?
    I came from a real tough neighborhood. I put my hand in some cement and felt another hand." -- Rodney Dangerfield

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    Privilege was pointed out to me in a simple example:

    A local food bank had all kinds of great food to give away. They could not understand why the "good" stuff was being ignored. Turns out when they really asked, the recipients did not have reliable refrigerators or stoves or the knowledge of how to cook the products. Some needed food they could carry and store on the counter, like peanut butter. Some could not read and products that required following instructions were beyond them. Some did not know how to cook rice or beans because no one had ever shown them.

    Many who donated and worked at the food bank had to be taught this about populations and to not assume that everyone knows the same information or has a similar housing situation.

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    Senior Member Ultralight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan View Post
    What if, rather than focusing on one groups privilege, as if it were an anomaly, we focused on the dis-advantage of those perceived as non-privileged in an effort to change what we perceive as privilege to the norm. Would we lose the luxury of guilt in the process?
    Can you clarify?
    I came from a real tough neighborhood. I put my hand in some cement and felt another hand." -- Rodney Dangerfield

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