Privilege is defined as “a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people”. Where I live, in the United States, the people with the highest level of privilege are white men. This statement is contrived from several crucial facts, including statistics regarding the gender gap and also those revolving around cases with racial profiling, among other things. It is important to understand that privilege shouldn’t be used to lessen one’s personal accomplishments, and it also shouldn’t be used as a catalyst in determining much of anything.
Privilege doesn’t really have much to do with individuals; unfortunately, it’s an ingrained cultural actuality. Privilege is embodied in several forms: race, gender, ability, sexuality, and economic status. In the U.S., the people with most privilege are those who are white, male, able-bodied, heterosexual, and socioeconomically advantaged. Privilege certainly exists, but it needs to be understood that privilege doesn’t deny individual hardship. White privilege, for example, doesn’t mean that you’ve never suffered through anything, just because you are white. Privilege can’t nullify anyone’s hardship, regardless if the topic is about race, gender, or sexuality.
It’s important to acknowledge privilege. Yes, it’s an unpleasant part of our world, but ignoring it won’t get anyone anywhere. People shouldn’t be playing games, looking to see who’s the most oppressed. Overlooking any one form of privilege, just because we might care more about another, is frankly disdainful.
The act of “checking your privilege” is uaually used when someone is being insensitive during conversations regarding any topic of privilege. For example, if you are white and you complain about protests centered around police brutality, you might be asked to check your racial privilege. That being said, “checking your privilege” isn’t a plea asking you to feel sorry about the fact that you are white, or male, or heterosexual.
Privilege has been ingrained into our culture, and it’s going to be difficult to abolish it, especially if people don’t acknowledge it. A small-scale solution is to stop perpetuating privilege, don’t use it in your life, and don’t give any satisfaction to those who do. Eventually, people will start recognizing that being “privileged” doesn’t make you any different or put you in a separate box from everyone else.
Prathusha Yeruva hails from the Great Lake state and is currently a sophomore at Troy Athens High School. She has an interest in biology and journalism, as well as in female empowerment. She founded a She's the First chapter at her high school (an organization that sponsors girls' education in the developing world), and that opportunity has definitely given her a more developed lens on women's issues globally. In addition to writing for Her Culture, she also writes for the women's issues column at She Speaks Media. She challenges herself academically with AP classes, participates in a wide variety of clubs, and values her Indian culture. In her free time, Prathusha drinks an abundance of coffee, listens to indie bands, and uses ampersands & parentheses excessively. She's so excited to be writing for Her Culture!