“You’re so lucky. I’m so jealous.”
These two phrases spin around me often. People are jealous of my lifestyle, and they think it fell into my lap. Well, it did.
But it is not luck. It is privilege.
I was born a white girl in an upper middle-class family in 1989. My parents were employed, and if they lost their jobs, I bet they could have gotten new ones pretty easily. I graduated from high school, then from college without really blinking an eye. I then saw opportunities and took them, and as a result I have seen a lot of the world. I have traveled, I have gotten paid to do things I find fun. And I do not take any of that for granted.
But if I were not a white woman from Connecticut, things would have been different. Things would be different.
So, allow me to clarify:
This is not luck. This is privilege.
This post is about me, because this is my blog and I write about my experience. I have the experience of a white person in this country.
Luck is that I was born white. Privilege is that my family will never know the hardship that Alton Sterling’s family faces today. Mike Brown’s family. Sandra Bland’s family.
Luck is finding $5 in the pocket of my old jeans. Privilege is that if I wanted to, I could simply not pay attention to reports of murders of people of color. I could go on with my day and post a photo with a caption about nature or trees or travel or whatever else. Privilege is that yeah, I can feel bad about this, I can feel my heart hurting, but then I can say oh well and sweep it under the rug. And if I did, nobody would bat an eye.
I literally never have to think about my race, because the entire society that surrounds me is built for me. I work in an industry designed to sell stuff… to me. Designed to engage with me. I live at a time where I can talk my way out of a speeding ticket, and if you don’t think that is about race, then good goddamn morning to you, it’s time to wake up.
I do not discredit your hardship. I don’t invalidate your excuses. But let me tell you, this world is full of excuses and well White People, we are full of them. So if you feel fragile or attacked by this, I’m gonna need you to get over that, because this society, this culture has literally been built for you. It revolves around you.
If you think we are all equal, open your eyes and see color. See that people of color are being murdered for existing and meanwhile, I’m getting a stern talking to for being rude to a cop.
My life goes on like normal today because I am white. I get to make choices that Philando Castile cannot make today because I am white. And when I get pulled over for a busted tail light, I get let off with a warning.
If you face similar circumstances as I do– if you are living in privilege like I am– do not for one second think I am some kind of lucky special flower. I just made different choices than you. Choices I did make not because of luck.
Choices I made because of privilege.
Start seeing your privilege. Start caring, start talking, start doing, and do not stop. And yes, care, talk and do for yourself. Themes of my blog are travel and the outdoors, and if that’s what brought you here, I am so happy it did and I hope you pursue whatever it is that is calling to you.
But we need to care, talk and do for the humans that are being murdered in front of us because of their skin color. Right now it is not enough. Prayers and thoughts are useless without action.
My life today is not my life because of luck. I have built my life the way it is because I have a foundation of privilege to do so from.
Get over your excuses and how you feel you should be doing more or saying more. Instead, say it.