Privileges: The Golden Jewel of Racism and Sexism | Teen Ink

Privileges: The Golden Jewel of Racism and Sexism

November 25, 2015
By JadaK BRONZE, East Hartford, Connecticut
JadaK BRONZE, East Hartford, Connecticut
2 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Oh no, we’re talking about racism AND sexism?! I warn you to flee while you can, because we’re all about to get educated. It is very obvious how injustice has become a pretty common place of discussion for everyone; in the media, on the internet, to anyone with functioning ears (or eyes in your case) willing to take time for your rant. I think it’s great. Let’s air some dirty laundry. But instead only focusing on the fluff of this topic by emotionally ranting, let’s get to the center of all these social issues with the ever so present problem of privileges.

Privilege is defined as a right, immunity or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most. So it is a right, but more than that. More because it is like a birthright; something that is not fought for or achieved but simply bestowed upon you by society. You might have privileges in your family. I do. For example, the reason I couldn’t pick the window seat in the car and was doomed to the back or middle seat was because choosing seats first was my older sister’s privilege. When I asked why she had a privilege and not me, I was told because I was born second and not to worry because one day I’d enjoy the same privilege over my younger brother. That is privileges in a nutshell. Now this blog post isn’t for me to rant on the frustrations I faced as a child with no say to what radio station we listened to on our way to Shop & Stop, but this is to debunk and expose the privileges bestowed upon groups within and by society.

Let’s dive into this and explore the ever so many privileges of the male human species. So many. Too many. They vary from requiring shorter morning routines than women, to getting paid more than women. Let’s start off easy with something like their privilege of strength. Why is it acceptable for men to spend so much time on building physical strength and acquire muscles but frowned upon when a women does it and she is called “too manly”. You see? Why does strength have to be characteristic of only men? This gives women the stereotype and requirement to be weak. And this doesn’t only mean physical strength ladies and gentlemen. When women are independent, opinionated and assertive, they’re just “women who need to be put in their place”. But for a man, oh no he’s just being a man.  Privilege to be whatever it is that society deems as an act of being a man. That’s where we all need to stop; justifying actions by classifying them as that individual or group is “just being” them. Men aren’t second guessed when they are in their 30s and still single, hey he’s just living the bachelor life. A single woman in her 30s, oh she probably sleeps around or just can’t hold a man down, what a shame. Privilege of safety. What’s to fear about women? Their scary shiny lip gloss, or is it their catastrophically curled hair? Or maybe it’s their maintained and manicured nails. Nope. Men do not feel the flooding waves of fear women do when they walk past a group of members of the opposite sex at night. They aren’t told to regulate their wardrobes in fear of giving off the “wrong” message to potential threats, thus making it their own fault. Do men double check any drinks they left unattended at a bar? Not as much as women do that’s for sure. I could obviously go on to how the bar for beauty standards are much lower for men than women; privilege of appearance. Or to the astounding fact that a man is more likely to be in a leadership position than a women, for example 100% of the USA’s presidents have been men; privilege of power. Or on to many many more. But I won’t because you should get the message by now. Men enjoy all these privileges, knowingly or unknowingly, while women are forced to receive the repercussions.

Sex is a broad topic because it really is an either or thing. You’re either the man or the women, basically. Another very prominent unjust set of privileges is white privilege. White privilege has commonly been defined as the privilege to be blind to race and injustice. Privilege of ignorance. It started off in the slave days with, you know, slaves. Not many whites in those days saw slavery as so wrong but as the way things went; black skin meant you’re meant to be ruled over by white skin. Then it progressed to the segregated days where whites and people of color couldn’t eat at the same Dominoes or sip coffee at the same Starbucks. Now we’re here. White privilege obviously isn’t as present as it used to be, but it still is here. It is in simple things like going to the nurse for a band-Aid and it’s a nude color, just not a POC’s nude. Why am I being handed a light pink bandage when I am very clearly not light pink? Another privilege can be seen in the media. When teen actress Zendaya wore dreads on the red carpet, a news reporter/journalist commented that she probably smelled like weed. How sweet. When POC embrace their culture they are treated with disdain and looked at disapprovingly by many others. A black woman or man with cornrows is ghetto or ratchet, but a white man or woman with their natural hair is accepted and unquestioned. The persisting presence of white privilege guarantees under privileges and causes POC to work even harder than them. Not to say whites do not work for what they have, but take into consideration that statistics show that in the US a once arrested white male is more likely to get a job than a clean black male. Whites rarely feel the un-comfort felt by POC because they’re the majority. They will seldom look around the room and think of how they are the only representation of their race present; privilege of majority. POC parents do have to come to a time where they sit their kids down and teach them about the harshness of life. Warn and beg them to be informed, informed on the racial injustice that could get them killed. Whites do not necessarily need to go through that. They do not feel the need to be in fear of their life if they are pulled over by a cop. They do not have to second guess several encounters in their life and question whether or not it was racism. They do not see those flashing red and blue lights and think this may be the last thing I see ever. They would have to have actually used a weapon to threaten the police and then got shot. But not POC like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, etc. They’re more likely to be stopped on the street for actual reasons and not because “they looked suspicious”. When a little 12 year old white boy plays around with a toy gun, why would anyone call the cops and especially how could a cop shoot and kill that little kid? Privilege of justice. Their privilege protects them from the harsh reality of race where the color of their skin, unchangeable, could be the very reason of their death.

Now if you’re a white man reading this right now, you’re probably feeling a lot of things right now. Attacked, defensive, guilty, responsible, and overwhelmed? Good. Feeling things mean something happened. It means you took away from this post. Now, this was not an attack to either men or white people. Many people get very offended and defensive when their privileges are called out; you shouldn’t. Some men may react to this thinking “Well, that’s not fair. Women have privileges too! I’m not allowed to blah blah blah”. Oh well, I’m truly sorry about that but the fact is that the privileges given to men surpass women and hinder women to remain in an undermined position, unless we change it. White people also may think “Well no no no, I’ve never had anything handed to me, I’m not racist and if people of colour blah blah blah.” Interesting, but despite the fact that you may have worked hard for what you have, the privileges you are unknown to are like a chains holding back POC’s and forcing them to need to work even harder than you did to get to just half of what you have. I mean it’s kind of hard to work hard when you’re shot and killed at age 12 for playing with a toy gun. It’s not your fault you’re treated better. Privileges don’t know any better; they give themselves to whomever for whatever reason and are accepted by their great friend, society. You can’t exactly control or help that. But you can be informed by it. And you can inform others. Now this topic can be a little awkward for types of people, especially for the people whose privileges they are. But making people uncomfortable is the first step to making a difference. Friction needs to happen to start a flame; as does tension need to arise to invoke a change. Educate the world on their privileges; most of the world is oblivious to it. Education on privileges will abolish privileges. Now go out into the world with this new information and create havoc!

The author's comments:

Well this was actually an assignment for a class, but my teacher encouraged us to put them out on the internet. The assignment told us to write on any social issue we are passionate about and feel is important and present in the US.

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This article has 1 comment.

on Dec. 6 2016 at 5:31 pm
forgettingtohuman SILVER, Brooklyn, New York
8 articles 0 photos 2 comments
This is very well put together and I feel that more people need to read this and understand. Thank you