As a white writer, I don’t spend a lot of time writing about race which is a major flaw. I have the privilege of living in a world where my experience are considered to be the default for whatever other identities I have so I get to choose whether or not to think about my race. But a lot of people don’t have that privilege.
So let’s take a few minutes and talk about race. I think one of the first steps is examining and acknowledging which privileges and blind spots I have. This is literally the bare minimum I can do and I want to be clear I don’t deserve accolades for basic steps that all of humanity should be doing on a daily basis.
- I am white and I have the option to not think about race whenever I want. I’m also not discriminated against or at risk of police violence based on my race.
- I am a citizen and I was born in a country with global power so I rarely have to worry about a war at home.
- I grew up solidly middle class and never lived in poverty. I never had to worry about where my basic necessities would come from or whether my housing was secure. And I had ample luxuries in life to make me comfortable.
- I am big and tall and rarely have to worry about my physical safety or invasions of my personal space.
- I am relatively able bodied and don’t need accessibility devices for my disabilities most of the time.
- I live in a state where cannabis is legal and easily accessible to self medicate my disabilities without barriers.
- I grew up without disabilities and experienced most of my early life without physical barriers.
- I am neurotypical for the most part and even with my ADD I grew up in a schooling environment where my difference was never pathologized with ADD relatives who normalized that experience.
- I have a job where my ADD is an asset and have never been discriminated against due to my disabilities.
- I had a good primary education and a private college degree that prepared me well for the economy and society we live in.
- I have a full time job and have never been under-employed or laid off. I make enough money to be able to afford to live in an expensive city where I can find community.
- I have a supportive spouse (even if it took a divorce to achieve that) and have never had a lack of dating partners.
- I can easily find communities of people who look like me.
- Even though I am fat, I still have size privilege by being able to shop off the rack.
- I come from a religion that has always been the majority in my country and culture and never experienced discrimination because of my beliefs.
My intersections of marginalization
- I am transgender in a country that is actively hostile towards me.
- I will never “pass” as cisgender and will always be visibly trans.
- I have large feet and cannot find feminine shoes my size in stores.
- I am queer and have to be wary of people who want to date me because they either view me as a feminine straight man or a gay man in a biphobic, transphobic culture.
- I am disabled and cannot do a lot of activities that I would like due to my asthma and the condition of my back.
Notice how short that list of marginalization is compared to my privileges? I may spend a lot of time writing about those intersections but what I don’t do is acknowledge my privilege and blind spots enough. There are dozens of reasons that my life could be harder due to things completely out of my control. And my life has never been made harder because of the color of my skin.
That is why we say Black Lives Matter. That is why we need to be conscious of what areas we don’t struggle with. Because otherwise those things are blind spots to us and can lead us to subconsciously discriminate against people who do have those issues. Because in our culture we are always taught to view life as a zero sum game which requires haves and have nots to function. So if I am not fighting for people of color, disabled people, immigrants, religious minorities, and people without class privilege, my work is for naught.
What are you doing to become more aware of your privileges and unconscious biases?