This is a transcript of a video on my youtube channel. The video is fully closed captioned!
When people bring up the concept of privilege, it’s usually met with a lot of resistance. People hear “privilege” and think it means
“everything that you have has been handed to you”
and that’s not really what privilege is. Let me give you an example:
I was raised in an upper middle class neighborhood. That means that I was able to go to a good school,I never had to worry about being in a dangerous neighborhood, I always had access to technology, and there were very few cases in my childhood where money was an issue. I hadn’t really done anything to earn these privileges.They simply existed for me.
See, each of us is born into a world that has history and that history means that there are certain people that will have less obstacles than others. Being raised upper middle class means that it was very easy for me to, for example, pursue an education. Education that has made it easier for me to create the videos that I create. Someone who is of less means has to overcome poverty to gain access to good education and technology. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t have to work hard for the things that I have. I absolutely did. But I also recognize that these things were simply more accessible to me.
All of these things aside, my life has been far from easy. I’ve had to struggle a lot harder than a lot of people that I know. And I had to overcome a lot of hurtles, especially as a black trans woman. However, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t benefited from preexisting structures that have made my life easier.
Acknowledging that is what people mean by “checking” your privilege.
You cannot truly fight for equality while fighting to maintain structures that oppress other people. So it’s important to check your privilege and to be aware that it’s there.
While I can never deny that there are certain areas where I am privileged, I am also at the end of the day, a black woman and being a black woman in this world doesn’t really come with privileges. Being raised upper middle class doesn’t mean that I don’t experience racism, it means that I simply have more tools to cope with it. The reality is that we live in a world where I’m seen as black first and a woman second. We currently live in a society that still very much judges and defines people by their race.
I could have enough money in my pocket to buy the entire store but I’ll still be followed in stores because I’m black. So being privileged in one way doesn’t mean you aren’t oppressed in another. And being oppressed in one way does not always cancel out the privilege that you have in other ways.
For example: I recently made a video about gay misogyny where I discussed Andy Cohen’s interview with Nicki Minaj.
Andy Cohen is a gay white man. His homosexuality, I’m sure, has given him struggle but he is still a white man. Being both white and male comes with privileges in this country that aren’t afforded to black women, like Nicki Minaj.
On the subject of Andy Cohen, the drastic change in representation of gay characters on television is a great example of how certain privileges exist despite specific types of oppression.
Think of just how many gay white, seemingly hetero-normative men are currently on television. Then think how many of them not only host their own television shows, but produce them.
I can’t think of very many gay, black men with media empires behind them outside of Ru Paul and trust me, it’s not because there aren’t enough qualified black men out there. It’s because their face is not the preferred face.
Outside of the LGBT community, think about the fact that Samuel L. Jackson and Morgan Freeman have both been the token older black men in film since I was a child. There’s this notion in Hollywood of “if you hire one black person, then suddenly you’re good.” The notion of filling a quota and tokenizing people of color as a means saying “we’re OK” ignores the fact that there are other people who aren’t really being allowed a chance because society has decided that they’ve met their quota.
It’s super important to recognize that the success of a few people does not then mean the problem is solved or that privileges no longer exists.
In other words, having a black president doesn’t mean racism is over.
There are some people who’s possibilities are limited because of existing structures of oppression and privilege.
When my father was my age, he wasn’t able to pursue the things I’ve been able to pursue. And it wasn’t because he didn’t want to pursue them ,it’s because he legally wasn’t able to. Slavery might have been abolished 152 years ago, but the impact of slavery still exists. Segregation in Boston still existed when my father was a child and in many ways it’s still existing today in the education system.
I understand that when it comes to conversations about privilege people can become defensive, but leave your feeling at the door and recognize that we’re having a much larger conversation here. As I’ve said, we’ve each been born into a world that has history and there are certain structures of power that are in place and some of those structures benefit some while oppressing others.
If you are truly invested in changing that, you’ll acknowledge how you benefit from these existing structures. Acknowledging that is truthfully the first step to making those changes because when you are in a position of privilege, you are an asset of change. The reality is that you’re not really helping us fight against these things if you’re not willing to acknowledge them for what they really are. You can say that you’d like things to be better, but if you’re not willing to tear down theses systems, then you’re part of the problem.
So on that note, I hope this video helps you check your privilege.
As usual, I want you to always remember and never forget that you are beautiful and you are loved
Support my channel: http://www.patreon.com/katblaque
Business Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
STORE / FACEBOOK / TWITTER / INSTAGRAM /YOUTUBE/COMMISSIONS /VLOG CHANNEL