Some background to this privilege diary:
In class we did the line of privilege activity which raised a memory of one of the first times I realized that because of the colour of my skin, I have privileges that other people may not have. A friend of my mothers – a middle aged black woman I’ll call Rita – and I were talking one of the times I stayed at her house. I was in fourth grade.
I remember making a comment about being a minority in a group of strangers, thinking about the time I went into a Baptist church assembly with my mom. I commented on how I felt uncomfortable being the only two white people in a room of a black congregation. At that point in my life, living in a predominately white neighborhood, I had never experienced being a minority. I had always experienced my white privilege as the majority.
I mentioned my uncomfort to Rita, and to my 11-year-old surprise, she did not smile in recognition but express that she is often in situations of minority. This conversation was one of the first times I recognized having white skin allowed me to feel comfortable in almost every setting of my life: when I go to school, when I go shopping or to the grocery store, when I go to the movies or spend time at friend’s homes.
Although at 11, I had experienced other encounters of white privilege, this is the first memory I have thinking about how having white skin, I could exist much more comfortable than individuals apart of a visible minority. Being white has given me the ability to be comfortable and accepted in basically every new social situation; I am welcomed without hesitation.
Because of the colour of my skin and my economic status, I recognize that I hold a great amount of privilege. I am able to receive an education, I am supposed to trust my law enforcement, I am comfortable asking questions and challenging authority. I also recognize that as a woman in North America, I have much more privilege than a woman in nearly any part of the developing world. I recognize that as a woman I have access to media that promotes an anti-rape culture, I have access to birth control and free choice. I also recognize that despite these privileges as a woman, much of my own empowerment is mediated by a patriarchal privilege that is overarching in many aspects of social transformation. Through my privilege diary I question how masculine privilege continues to operate within different forms of North American development and in turn, perpetuate within decisions made within the “developing” world. How is this patriarchal privilege embedded within Neoliberalism and globalization, politics and the entertainment industry?
I can easily get a job and not worry about being the only white person at my workplace.
I have access to media that presents people I can physical identify with.
The majority of television I watch, music I listen to, or books I read, are based around a white culture, with white actors, white musicians and white protagonists.
I have access to clean drinking water when I turn on my tap and fresh food when I travel to my nearest grocery store.
I know I have options for economic support if I lose my job.
I am able to purchase new technologies such as my MacBook and iPhone, unlike those who are manufacturing these products.
And this “privilege diary” itself is written within a discourse of privilege.