Let's take this a step further because I am also privileged in a way that only white, middle-class American women can be. You see, I have been afforded the luxury of being able to play dumb or to at least turn a blind eye to what is going on in the world. I can proclaim it too much to deal with, turn off my tv, and go about my business - I can do this because the things that are going on in our country right now are not directly impacting me. I am privileged.
I cannot change the circumstance of my birth. Quite frankly, I don't really want to. I both acknowledge and am grateful for my privilege.
I think, though, that this quote from Spider-Man is particularly appropriate for what is happening in our country and what I can do about it.
"With great power comes great responsibility."(I believe that power and privilege are fairly synonymous here so we'll make the substitution for the rest of this blog.)
I am privileged so I have a responsibility to seek to understand those who are different from me; to understand different cultures and ethnicities certainly, but more importantly I should seek to understand experience. Fear has been my reason for not always doing this - fear that my questions would be misunderstood as insensitive. Not acting for fear has not moved me forward on my quest to understand. I will work harder on this.
I am responsible for standing up to hatred displayed around me. I must speak for those who are not as privileged as I. I will no longer give the message that I condone this behavior because I am silent. I will not be silent. I do not want to be part of a group that spews hatred, so I can rid myself of the fear of not fitting in, and speak against what I believe to be wrong. I will do so with the loud, powerful voice my privilege extends me.
My children are also privileged and it is my responsibility to teach them how to use that privilege for good. It is my responsibility to teach them that responding to others with kindness, empathy, respect, and acceptance is how we should respond to all people, not just those that look like us or practice religion the same way we do. I feel like I work hard on this one every day and I can work harder. The future of the world depends on this.
So this is me standing up against the hatred so prominently displayed in Charlottesville, VA recently, and for the hatred displayed at any time.
I am not a better person because I happened to be born white. I will be a better person because I will uphold that all people deserve the privilege that I have received. All people deserve understanding, love, tolerance, and kindness. Not one of us is the same as another. We are all different. This is what makes us great.
I will take my white privilege responsibility seriously. Will you?