White Male Privilege
Updated: May 22
It was just over 5 years ago that I was in NYC for the first and last time. I learned a lot of things those 2 months in that park, but becoming aware of my privilege was probably the best thing. I can see how being at the top of the privilege pile or (another way of looking at it) having the least amount of prejudices aimed toward you is a very powerful thing.
When I was protesting this insane economic system in Zuccotti park, I was a tall, well educated, healthy, (allegedly) somewhat attractive white male who happened to blend in with the homeless people in the park due to the clothes I chose to wear and the hair and beard I chose to let grow long and unruly. I decided one day to get a haircut and don a 3 piece suit to go undercover on wall st during protests. On my way out of the park that morning, I found racks of suits and a few tailors and hair stylists giving people like me makeovers. Someone had beat me to this idea! Within half an hour, I looked like a wall st banker and was able, with a few choice words and the right attitude, walk right through NYPD checkpoints surrounding wall st (without a mandatory ID) so I could relay police movement back to a central command post. Can you imagine a woman doing this? A black man? A disabled person? Of course not. Only someone who had won the privilege sweepstakes like myself could pull this one off. It was then I realized how powerful this privilege stuff was and vowed to:
1. forever be aware and grateful for mine
2. try and use it to help others who don't have it.
3. be sensitive to those who may begrudge the fact that I have as much as I do.
4. help others who have it but can't recognize it yet.
Ironically, the only thing that threatens absolute privilege is self awareness and even then, it doesn't strip it away from you, only a huge cultural shift could do that. It just means you won't use it mindlessly anymore and you may experience some guilt when you do use it. Come on fellow PWM's, the fact that you can choose to recognize your privilege or not and it won't impact your life in any way shape or form other than how you view yourself is a great example of the privilege you wield.