First of all, I would like to say that I am very much a work in progress! I don’t claim to be perfect and I certainly haven’t stopped learning where my faults lie. I don’t know all of the correct terminology either – working on this too but my brain doesn’t work like it used to.
I hadn’t heard of the term ‘privilege’ until I started on Twitter. That, in itself, is a privilege. I’m writing this post to share my journey with you, my journey of learning about why my life might be easier or harder compared to others. This isn’t a post to educate on privilege btw.
I’ve been making lists! This is my list of privileges (no particular order):
Being born white.
Being born happy with my sex ie female.
A lower middle class upbringing.
Going to a good state school.
Being born in an English speaking country in peace times. No civil war etc.
Being able bodied …. Not so much these days.
Having an education. 9 GCSEs 2 A levels, a ND in art and a BSc – I did my degree for free (apart from the last 2/3 years) as I was on income support and had my OU fees paid. I doubt this happens anymore.
A stable family and happy childhood. Food and love always available.
Wanting children and being able to biological produce children.
All these things make or made my life that bit easier than someone else. Especially being born white in a country where I had free speech. It is hard for me to imagine what it must be like to be born into a country where infant mortality is high through famine. As a teenage girl, these things bothered me so much that I didn’t feel worthy to be alive. I took on the guilt of the Western world and it made me very ill.
I’m not expecting sympathy for that, just telling you how I felt. I felt as powerless to do something about it then as I do now. I’ve learnt to let go of a lot of my worries now – all they did was make me unwell and didn’t help those who I was worrying about. That is a privilege! Those who live it can’t just step aside and forget about it.
I also know how fickle life can be and how even being born into privilege is not enough to have an easier life…
Being a single parent at 20 (but also very fortunate to have supportive parents). Now a single parent to 3.
Having ME/CFS and the constant worry of losing my benefits.
Being a victim of DA and rape and developing PTSD (and not being a male solider to get a proper diagnosis because who cares about VAW?!).
I was privileged enough to own my own home for a few years until it was repossessed. After years of the children and I being technically homeless – we now have a HA house.
Yes, I have struggled and yes I do struggle. My life feels on a knife edge at times – at the mercy of rich, white men who sit in parliament and play chess with my life and those of my children.
When people speak to me of how they’ve had enough of asylum seekers, I say to them that I would do the same if my children and I stood the chance of a better life in another country. I don’t under estimate how lucky I am to live in the UK. How terrified must you be to risk drowning in the Med or suffocating in a lorry in order to leave your home country?
I think of all of those people who don’t have the money or means to leave their country. They face the prospect of death every day. Immigration wouldn’t be such a hot topic if every country in the world was a safe and pleasant place to live. Governments could start this now by ending third world debt, we all know that they won’t. They don’t want an even playing field.
At the same time, that doesn’t make my suffering or your suffering any less relevant. Suffering is relative – always.
I will continue to question myself and my attitudes. I cannot understand what it is like to be a WoC but I can listen (and not to expect them to educate me either). It’s difficult checking my privilege as it makes me uncomfortable to confront my prejudices when I’d like to think I have none.
This is very much the start of my journey – I hope to read this in a few years time cringing at how naive I sound.