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Privilege

May 8, 2014

For years I’ve been frustrated that so many otherwise intelligent people that I’m friends with can’t seem to understand the concept of privilege. When I talk about white privilege, Christian privilege, male privilege, etc…, they come back with a rejoinder along the lines of, “I’m not privileged, I’ve worked hard for everything I have.” My reaction is to get frustrated, then to get angry and then to say something I’ll regret later. After all, I never said that they hadn’t worked hard for what they have. I also didn’t say that their life was rosy or that they were born with a silver spoon in their mouth. All I said was that they were privileged.

Privilege doesn’t mean that you haven’t worked hard. It doesn’t mean that your accomplishments are without value. It just means that certain barriers that exist for other people don’t exist for you.

Ophelia Benson has a great post that explains this concept succinctly. “The privilege is the absence of barriers that exist for other people.” Ophelia is always a good read. She has great insight and is more patient than I usually can manage when dealing with issues of social justice.

John Scalzi has a longer article on the same subject that explains the concept of privilege in terms that young, male gamers can understand. He’s less nice than Ophelia, but swings his analogy like a 10 lb sledge hammer and manages to hit the nail in one stroke.

Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is.

Be sure to read the updates as well.

Please take the time to understand the concept of privilege, before you engage in knee-jerk denial of its existence.

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