Out of Your Comfort Zone: Checking Your Privilege

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Words || Ky Stewart

The word ‘privilege’ has become the buzzword of 2020 and so it should. It is a word that everyone, especially those in dominant groups, should come to properly understand. Privilege has been at play for centuries and has been systematically institutionalised in every aspect of our society. People should understand how the privilege they might have, whether they like it or not, has disadvantaged others.

I’m sure you have seen Instagram has turned into an online protesting platform. 

From the controversial black tile to the endless cycle of Instagram stories spreading awareness and links for various different causes relating to BLM or other humanitarian crises. 

This movement is spreading desperately needed awareness of the constant injustices faced by disadvantaged groups. It is a way for our society to recognise what is happening and what has happened. It is a way to voice our anger and fight for a united end to racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ableism and everything else that has pushed people down. 

What has emerged out of this movement is the discussion about privilege. 

As a white passing Indigenous man, I exhibit a set of privileges my non-white Indigenous brothers and sisters do not get to have. This is something that I have had to realise and learn about. For example, I can talk about Indigenous issues freely and be given a platform and people will be more inclined to listen, but my friends cannot do the same just because they have a different colour skin. 

As white people, it is easy to ignore the vast issues in societies or not completely understand why people are protesting for their human rights. This is probably one of the more dangerous privileges, because you are able to ignore something that is killing others simply because it doesn’t affect you. 

I have had many discussions and heated arguments with people who have told me that they haven’t had it easy and that saying that all white people benefit from privilege is unfair because not everyone is racist. Which shows to me that they probably don’t understand what privilege is. 

Having privilege doesn’t mean that you are racist. Having privilege doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to help fight against racism, it just means that you need to understand that there are systems in place that will ultimately benefit you and not others. 

Reading a book doesn’t equate to an immediate understanding of racism and privilege, but it is a good place to start. Listen to the stories being told by non-white people about their experiences. Start researching and unlearning what has been told to you in your education that comes from a biased Anglo point of view. Get involved in politics and stop using the excuse that you are not interested, or you don’t understand. Because other people don’t get the choice to be disinterested in politics when it encroaches on their lives. 

What we need is for people to stop and think about how they might be able to get an education, walk down the street without fear, or feel safe with police presence. Having privilege allows for you to support movements like BLM and use it to break racist systems. 

In the end, please just be kind and love everyone. Fight in the face of injustice and wash your hands.