That American Express tagline is accurate for many other things. It happens to be perfect for this article so you must read on!
Membership Has Its Privileges
People generally understand what privilege is; however, it becomes clearer when explained in different ways. I’m a Black female my privilege extends to all Black restaurants, hotels/motels, neighborhoods, evenly mixed or all Black towns, and so on, you get the picture. I have no guarantees that I will be able to go anywhere I choose but, Caucasians definitely can choose when they want to go, where they want to go, and how they travel without little to no consideration. That’s privilege!
Dr. Steven Jones, PhD., is the CEO of Jones & Associations Consulting, Inc., a diversity and organizational change consulting firm with offices in San Diego came up with a great privilege example called, “The Right Hand of Privilege”.
Dr. Jones describes privilege as a way individuals receive unearned advantages in life solely based on being a member of certain social identity groups. Additionally, privilege is about the systems that were created to give present groups advantages while also disadvantaging other groups. Let’s begin the analogy. What do you think: Do we live in a right-handed world? There are many systems in place to support the right-handed group. Here are just a few.
School desks, in general, are made for right-handed people. For comfort, cars are designed for righties. How many of you right-handers arise and think, “I live in a world of privilege every day?” (Rhetorical) Right-handers believe right handed items are normal and standard. For example, the right-handed desks or baseball mitts are called desks and mitts. However, if they are left-handed, they are called left-handed desks and left-handed mitts. These things are not “normal”. There are “Left-Handed Stores”; however, there are no “Right-Handed Stores” those are referred to as K-mart, Target, Lowes, etc.
Surely you can see that receiving privilege because you belong to a particular group is not always obvious. But once you notice it and believe it is to the disadvantage to other groups you should do what? This cannot be answered by anyone but you. Think about it and then ask yourself, could you ever be the disadvantaged?