It isn’t uncommon to have one if these responses to privilege if you have privilege. Not sure if you do? That is usually the biggest tell of having privilege–being unaware that you have it! Read on to see if you’ve experienced any of these three responses when you’re privileged.
It always seems that the holidays tends to highlight privilege more than other seasons. Charity donations rise and ordinary people feel the spirit of “Christmas Cheer” (and are suddenly generous). Meanwhile, those with less gifts, less finery and less fancy cuisine see they have less. In addition, poor health and lack of opportunity becomes more noticeable. And those who only have few or severed family relationships feel this absence more strongly.
I see my response come out during the holidays. Today I was feeling the second one of these because we were able to afford Christmas presents, take time off, and my husband has a job. I figured I would talk about it because I know others experience this too! After doing advocacy work for over fifteen years, I am very familiar with the three main responses to privilege.
Three Responses to Having Privilege
Defensive is often people’s first response when you’re privileged. Sometimes it is an anger at feeling unjustly accused. Sometimes it is just pride. Either way way, this response doesn’t usually do much good. Sometimes it even makes us into angry advocates (What is angry advocacy? Read this).
A second type of response is feeling guilt or shame. Guys, I am QUEEN of this response. I can feel ashamed of having and so I give out of guilt instead of generosity. In fear of flouting privilege, I hide it, wish it away, even get rid of it.
But we don’t need to feel ashamed of privilege. We just need to wield it well.
And to do that, let me introduce you to our third response: humility. Humility goes a long way to empathize with and humanize others. It sets us up to be learners and consider others as important. Our response becomes love in action and then it morphs into empowering those without privilege.
Let’s be self-aware of privilege and our responses to it. It’s going to make the world a better place.
Do you have a usual method of responding in your privilege? I’ve done each of these countless times, so your aren’t alone! Tell me in the comments what your experience has been.