White privilege is a blessing

Another word for ‘privilege’ is blessing.

We’re talking a lot about while privilege and it’s really important conversation to have. But some folks find it hard. They’re pushing back on the whole idea of being privileged.

I think it’s all about semantics. I think some people hear privileged and they think of being born with a golden spoon in the mouth. They imagine holiday homes in the Hamptons and automatic acceptance to Harvard. Hedge fund managers, the aristocracy… those untouchable people in the elites, they are privileged. But not regular old me.

If you have an ordinary life, it can be hard to see the privilege. If you lost your job in Corona or you have health problems and no insurance, or your struggling to keep things together, then it can be really hard to look at your life and say ‘yeah look at me and my wonderful white privilege.’

But how about we reframe it?

If privilege seems to all encompassing, then let’s talk about blessings.

We all have blessings. And we all have challenges. One does not take away the other.

I’m white, from a middle-class background. I went to college as though it was my birthright. I got good grades easily. Now I’m married and raising my kids in a stable two parent family. I have kids.
Those things are blessings.

Being white makes many things in my life easier. My middle-class upbringing gave me a better start in life than a lot of people. I have children and I conceived them with ease.

But I’m a human being so I also have challenges.

I’m a plus size women. The body I was born into makes some parts of my life easier and a bunch of things harder. I have a complicated mental health history. Sometimes the same mind that made college a breeze, made everything else a struggle.

I’m an Orthodox Jew. Anti-Semitism is very real, even in 2020. I have been turned down for jobs because I was religiously observant. The expression of my faith is one the most meaningful things in my life and sometimes it’s a challenge.

Many of our blessings are circumstantial. If I lived in another country than being an Orthodox Jew wouldn’t be as significant. There have also been times and places in history where whiteness was not an advantage.
But I live where I do, and when I do. Right now, in 2020 my life is fully of blessings and I can use them to help other people with their challenges.

Recognizing someone else’s challenge doesn’t take away any of my blessings. But it might let me share them.

2 thoughts on “White privilege is a blessing

  1. Thanks for this beautiful piece! While I think it’s important to focus on the blessings we have in our lives, I think that that turning an entire race into victims is a harmful and dangerous narrative, and that any movement that promotes such a narrative does more harm than good. Every person has the opportunity to focus on the blessings in their lives, regardless of the color of their skin, and seeing oneself as a victim of any circumstance will put one on path to perpetual victim-hood.

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I think there is an important difference between understanding negative experiences and victimhood. This is why survivors of sexual assault are called ‘survivors’ instead of victims as they once were. Processing and moving on from trauma requires an acknowledgment of that negative experience but the act of processing and moving forward takes one out of passive victimhood. There is room for acknowledging the negative impact of race in many people’s lives without falling into victimhood.

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