Funny thing about privilege: when you have it, it can be hard to see.
We can only really see the world through our own eyes. And because it’s human nature, we tend to gather together with other humans who are like ourselves. So it is easy to think that everyone walks through life having the same kinds of experiences that we have. Coming to the same conclusions. Sharing the same perspective. Because in the little echo-chambers we cocoon ourselves in, everyone is like us! With the same conclusions! Same perspective!
As a mostly white, but quarter asian person, I ‘fit’ into a lot of different communities. But it’s not something I realized when I was a 19 year-old intern, flitting between work days with my white co-workers, and weekends out with either my Hawaiian (read: Asian) friends, or my black roommates and their friends. To me, I was just …. me. To my white co-workers, I was mostly white, mixed with just a bit of model-minority. To my Hawaiian friends, I was fully embraced as another Asian! To my black roommates, I wasn’t mistrusted as part of the problem, part of the system.
And if I do the math, in college, I dated nearly as many hispanic men as white ones. (The google tells me 16.7% of the US population is hispanic, if you’re wondering.)
As a vaguely beige person, I get to be embraced by all the people. It is a wonderfully beautiful place to be. It is a wonderfully safe place to be.
And when you are safe, when you fit, when you are loved: it can be hard to see the truths of other people. People who are not safe. Who are told they do not fit, in a million different ways. People who don’t get to walk through a room and find that other people just naturally and easily love them.
I don’t need to hate my privilege. To give it up, or refuse it. I love many of the things it has brought to me.
But I can recognize that not everyone gets to walk through life the way I do. I can include, the way I have been included. I can trust, the way I have been trusted. I can believe the experiences that don’t match my own. I can support! I can add POC to my instagram feed. I can consume the works of artists and artisans who are POC. I can start an anti-racist book club. I can support local businesses that are run by POC.
What can I do? I can get out of my cocoon.