1. A teacher wore a "Got Privilege?" tee-shirt into the fairly liberal Boston-area school in which he works, and was confronted by a co-worker, who insisted that a Puerto Rican man wearing such a shirt is 'offensive to white people.' His story prompted Anti-Racist Parent columnist Liza Talusan to ask:
Privilege. Is it really an ugly word? Why is it so difficult for people to realize and accept that they have privilege? Does having privilege mean people are bad? Selfish? Close-minded?2. Linda Hirshman writes in The Washington Post that feminism has lost it's focus by concentrating too much on intersectionality. According to Hirshman, we have been placing so much importance on the often divisive issues of race and class, that we've failed to unify around what's best for women. I applaud Jill's response at Feministe:
...my main concern comes at the way the issues are split [by Hirshman] into authentic “feminist” issues and those “other” issues that those “other” women are trying to integrate into feminism. It’s a question of who feminism belongs to, and who is entitled to set out its goals and concerns... I don’t see why middle-class white women’s issues are more purely feminist that the issues raised by poor women or Black women or Hispanic women, or any other group of women. The issues that disproportionately effect middle-class white women are also issues colored by race and class — but because they’re the dominant race and the dominant class, that gets glossed over.That someone who has spent a lifetime fighting for the rights of the disempowered can so easily shrug-off the challenges faced by others, so long as they are challenges that she won't have to face herself - it saddens me. That people get angry when their privilege is pointed out - angry at people who have traditionally be denied those privileges - confuses me.
All of us enjoy some type of privilege. We are able-bodied, or white, or male, or upper-class, or straight. And for all of us, the types of privilege that we enjoy will sometimes blind us to the challenges that face others. Our differences in privilege will lead us to misunderstand one another, and to mistrust and judge one another. Those of us who are white won't understand that it is a privilege to see numerous and diverse representations of people like us in the media, and won't understand how damaging and morale-beating continual disrespect can be. Those of us who are straight won't understand what a privilege it is to be able to unthinkingly treat our partners with affection no matter where we are, and to not have to worry that our family structure will be misunderstood or used as an excuse to torment our children. Those who are male will most likely not understand how common street harassment and sexual harassment can be, nor how frightening and bewildering.
With so many obstacles to understanding one another, can we ever really be allies?
(h/t to Blue Milk for leading me to the phenomenal Lesbian Dad post on explaining 'two mommies' to other parents, and to Alas, a blog for pointing to Anti-racist Parent.)
UPDATE: The back of the "Got Privilege?" tee shirt reads "If you are neutral in a situation of injustice, you have chosen to side with the oppressor." I realized after posting that the text in the photo might be a bit small to be easily read.