I thought I understood that I am privileged. As a white, young, not-hideous, healthy, employed, neurologically “normal”, loan-less, relatively wealthy, degree’d, heterosexual,1 genetically and physically and traditionally male,2 (natively) English-speaking, New Zealand citizen, I’ve hit the jackpot. I win at every category (plus some I haven’t thought of). I know on some level that I benefit from everyone else who is in a different box than I am for any of these categories. Yet I’m repeatedly surprised by just how much freedom I have that other people don’t, not because I’m more deserving, but merely because one of those labels is different.
However I’ve been shocked when talking to friends and finding out how they’ve been taken advantage of by employers and they can’t negotiate because visas and how hard it is to find a job. I need to remember that just because I have the power to demand a fair contract and a reasonable wage (even in this country where that’s supposed to be a given) not everyone has that freedom.
Unless something significant changes I will probably never have an issue with money or finding work because everything is stacked in my favour. Not because I’m good with money or because I somehow deserve to be paid more than, or even necessarily deserve a job over other people.
I need to always remember that just because the system is easier for me doesn’t mean it’s easy for many or most people.
I need to always remember that I’ve done nothing to deserve it being easier for me.
I need to always remember that in many cases it’s zero-sum. That for it to be fairer it has to become harder for me. I have to be ok with this.
I never want to say to someone “The world isn’t fair, get used to it” because I’m one who benefits from that unfairness.
The world isn’t fair, lets try to change it.
White knight/white guilt
I try to remind people when they’re abusing/not realising their privilege. I try to reassure people when they’re on the losing end of the some unfairness - that they’re not at fault because they don’t match any one of those statuses.
However I don’t want to be doing that to assuage guilt, or out of a ‘helping out the lesser beings’ attitude, I also don’t want to encourage a victim mindset - the attitude that the deck is stacked against me so I just won’t try. I want my egalitarianism to be sincere and helpful.