I got a comment from a reader of this blog, asking how I dealt with some of my privileges, specifically the ability to hop on a plane and go to Central America, while some immigrants living in the US have not been able to see their families in years. Here’s my response:
It’s true… we can move about more easily, really without any problems. I guess it’s kind of like superpowers… are you using them for good or for evil?
Slightly more seriously, I think there are two different categories of privileges. Some, like travel, are not based on others not having them (although travel’s effects on the environment are questionable). On the other hand, there are some privileges that came as a result of other people not having that privilege. For instance, the overabundance of the “economic north” is only possible due to the poverty of the “south”.
So while both types of privilege differences need to be dismantled, I don’t think I need to feel as guilty for using my privilege that is not as intrinsically connected to other people’s lack of privilege.
Does that make sense?
Privilege is something I can not control. I have received, as a white, healthy, protestant male from the United States, an enormous amount of privilege and power. And I think that to whom much is given, much is required. So yes, kind of like superheros, I need to make sure I’m using it for good and not for evil.