Let’s get clear on something real quick:
As far as women in the world go, I am undeniably about the most privileged, short of a small percentage of white women millionaires and celebrities.
And that fact is not uncomfortable for me to admit.
It’s reality, and I recognize that there are many ways that I socially and culturally benefit in the world simply because of where I live, and the colour of my skin.
And you know what? That’s f*cked up and entirely unjust.
There is nothing innately special about me, and I fully believe that my sister from the other side of the world, or the other side of the country, living in a less profitable community than me should have as much access to opportunities and overall wellbeing as I do.
When the world is more equal, we all win.
Social media is a cesspool for inequality of all kinds.
Two days ago I, a privileged white woman, called out even more privileged individuals than myself — again.
This took place on Twitter, when pointed out the inappropriate use of highlighting the “passion” of the Nova Scotia mass shooter in a media headliner.
This tweet focused rather on his Earthly past-time pursuits, rather than the fact that he senselessly murdered 22 people in what is now Canada’s most devastating mass shooting in our history.
That’s the death toll as of today — but three days later, and police are still looking for bodies of potential victims, spread over 16 different crime scenes.
This headline not only enraged me, but also many of my fellow Canadians, leading to the eventual deletion of the Twitter post itself.
I pointed out in a tweet response how inappropriate this headline was, and how white male privilege is playing out right in front of us:
Turns out, not everyone agreed with my note.
But not because they wanted to debate my perception of our broken world being wildly unbalanced when it came to inequality.
Not because they have data or statistical proof to challenge my point.
Not because it morally conflicted with their own belief.
Disagreement simply because I was a woman, voicing a public opinion, in relation to privilege of any kind:
Being cognisant of the inequality in the world is not ignorant — it’s called self-awareness.
Hi there, random stranger on Twitter.
Let’s clear up a few more things:
- You’re right, I am white
- You’re right, I am privileged
- I never denied either of those facts.
And you know what? Pointing out the privilege of others doesn’t make me blind to my own privilege — it actually makes me more aware of the fact that there’s an imbalance of privilege in our world, to begin with.
The one who is really blind in this situation seems to be the most privileged type of the individual on the face of the planet. And he seems a tad unable to recognize his own privilege in action as it relates to a fellow man of a similar stature.
If he truly could recognize and appreciate his own privilege, what in my tweet would he have found offensive, to begin with?
I’m not telling this man he should be ashamed of himself — he didn’t have a say in how and where he was born.
But it’s incredibly irresponsible to be so entirely self-involved and offended by the mere CONCEPT of one’s own privilege that you refuse to accept it, full stop.
If a man takes the mention of male white privilege as a direct insult rather than a societal and culturally proven reality — who’s the actual ignorant one in this conversation?
Multiple things can exist all at once, without negating one another.
How insecure must one be to revert to this level of deflection, just to avoid accepting an uncomfortable truth about their position in the world?
I am privileged. You, sir, are privileged as well.
We both benefit from the unjust balance of the world, and it’s our social responsibility to work with our global community as a whole to make the world a better, more balanced place.
The first step of that process is recognizing our position in this unequal world. From there, the second step is using our realities in a socially responsible way to achieve greater equality for everyone who shares this planet with us.
It is possible to both exist in privilege while also pointing out other instances of that same privilege in use.
That’s not ignorance — it’s social awareness in action.
We can’t always control where we land — but we can actively work towards greater balance.
I can’t help that I was born in a first-world country, to a white, middle-class family.
That’s just my reality.
And it’s not something I should necessarily be deeply ashamed of — but it is something I must be intentionally aware of in my everyday life, and how I conduct myself in the world around me.
So with that said, Dear White People:
We can make one of two choices when faced with the position we’re in:
- We can continue to benefit from the imbalance of the world, refusing in ignorance to acknowledge that anything is wrong in hopes we don’t lose my ‘edge’ that automatically puts us ahead, while harming others around us
2. we can work intentionally with our global community of women and men to create a fairer, more equal world where opportunities are balanced and treatment of one another is fair
I choose the latter, and hopefully you do, too.
I hope we all choose to speak out in situations of great injustice, and support causes that call for greater equality regardless of gender, race or socio-economic standing.
That’s not something we should do for feel-good recognition —it’s our literal responsibility as individuals in our unjustly privileged position.
And to ignore that is the greatest case of ignorance in action.
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