George Floyd and I were both arrested for allegedly spending a counterfeit $20 bill. For George Floyd, a man my age, with two kids, it was a death sentence. For me, it is a story I sometimes tell at parties. That, my friends, is White privilege.
— Mark D. McCoy (@m_d_mccoy) June 1, 2020
I haven’t blogged anything in a while.
I’ve had ideas and things I wanted to post, but with everything going on in the world it didn’t seem right. My petty struggles and minor life issues aren’t something that needs amplification right now.
So, I’m not going to share with you a list of my irrational annoyances (which will be my next post), or a random wacky anecdote.
I’m going to write about privilege *cue eye roll.*
Let me start by saying that at a lot of points in my life, I’ve not felt privileged. I grew up with a single mum who worked multiple jobs to try and keep us safe and fed.
I remember our car being repossessed. I remember lining up with Mum at the Salvos because we needed help. I remember the Christmas that Mum couldn’t afford to buy us gifts. I remember Mum stressing about how she was going to keep a roof over our head, clothes on our back, food on the table—you get the point.
There was a large part of my life where I felt ashamed. Of being poor. Fat. Greek. Australian. Of not having the newest gadgets and clothes.
I remember feeling like I didn’t belong.
Being called a “chocky frog” and a “wog” when people would realise I was half-Greek. Feeling like I didn’t fit in with the Australian side of my family because we were just the little dogs. And like I didn’t fit in with the Greek side of my family, because we were the little skips.
I felt the furthest from “privileged” than you could imagine.
I’m not telling you this for sympathy. I don’t need it. I’m telling you this so you understand how age and education have shown me just how privileged I am. I am so very, very lucky. I was lucky back then too. I learnt, long ago, just how “privileged” I was (and continue to be).
This is me, “checking” my privilege:
>> I was born in a developed country.
>> I am white.
>> My ethnicity doesn’t define who I am—nobody refers to me as “Tanya, the Greek/Aussie” girl.
>> My dad has always been a huge part of my life.
>> My mum and dad are still alive.
>> We never had to worry about landlords or rent; Mum owns her house.
>> While we didn’t get everything we wanted it as soon as we wanted it, we always got it (e.g. Mum and Dad got us the latest Nintendos and clothes).
>> I’ve never felt unloved or unwanted (seriously, my mum has told me she loves me every day of my life).
>> Our house was filled with laughter (and yelling too sometimes).
>> We have access to clean running water.
>> We have access to free health care.
>> I have never felt targeted by the police and am less likely to be “randomly” pulled over (because I’m a middle-aged white woman).
>> When I turn on the TV or go to a movie, 99 percent of the people in it are my race (and they’re generally the “heroes”).
>> I can go into a shop and not be watched in case I steal something.
>> When I’m late for a meeting, my race doesn’t get blamed.
>> When I talk about racism, I’m seen as politically correct, not like I’m trying to get a “free ride.”
>> Nobody asks me to explain or be the voice of my race (i.e. hey, why do Maori do that dance thing?).
>> I can vote, for free, and locally.
>> My family history is known and our language has not been erased.
>> I don’t think about my race every day and can choose when and where I want to respond to racism.
>> The worst thing that happens to me when I speak about racism is being called “PC,” “snowflake,” “dickhead,” or I get unfriended.
>> I’ve never felt like my life was in danger because I’m white.
Everything I’ve listed above makes me privileged. I didn’t “ask” to be born white. I didn’t ask for the privileges I receive because of that.
But I still benefit.
Any “hardship” I’ve had in my life is outweighed by how f*cking lucky I am. And I did nothing to deserve that luck.
I didn’t work harder, I didn’t study longer, and I am not smarter.
I am white.
In a developed country.
With representation everywhere.
That is my privilege. What’s yours?