• Stephanie

Privilege and what you’re going to do about it.

Earlier this week, I watched something unfold on Instagram that I could see had been brewing for quite some time. A well known white feminist influencer called Florence Given had come under attack by a fellow influencer Chidera “The Slumflower”, who says Given copied her material and profited off her as a black woman and perpetuated white violence against the black community. The year of 2020 has not been an easy one, and unless you’ve been living under a rock all this time then you’ll know the Black Lives Matter movement sparked an international outcry and loud conversation following the death of George Floyd. I can’t breathe. Hell, the Colston statue FINALLY got torn down and chucked in the fucking harbour after years of peaceful asking and offensively polite refusal. On some level it felt like the world had finally woken up to the fact that there are members of society who repeatedly get fucked over because of systemic racism, and people were asking themselves how they could be part of the solution instead of being part of the problem.

Ask yourself here and now; what’s my privilege? How do I sit in society with my ethnicity, sexuality, gender, income, who my family are, what my body can do, what language I speak, what my education is, how much fat I have on me?

There is an uncomfortable hierarchy at play, built on thousands of years of particular groups of humans convincing those around them they exist on a higher level, exploiting those who are different or in a different circumstance; and now we are here in 2020, and whilst that exploitation may not be as obvious, it is still very much here and now.

My privilege is massive. I’m a white, cis-gendered woman living in a western world, and whilst I don’t feel 100% heterosexual, I have a boyfriend so I occupy a very heteronormative space. My family are working-middle class and I’ve always had a safe and warm home, I went to university, I am able bodied, and I exist in a body that can be passed off as thin.

Whilst I’ve had my fair share of sexist and misogynistic comments thrown at me from single brain celled men in vans, and experienced the spectrum of sexual assaults for existing as a woman in this patriarchal world; I’m still privileged as fuck.

After you’ve asked yourself those questions, and established where you are in this unfair hierarchy, you then need to ask yourself the next question; what are you going to do with this privilege? It isn’t enough to admit your privilege and then sit there basking in your wokeness. Because of this hierarchy, there is violence and cruelty and insipid “us and them” cultures that permeate into every aspect of our society. You may feel the need to say as a white person “I don’t see colour”, which on the surface might seem like you are rising above racism, but actually you’re perpetuating it. Because the world sees colour, and it fucks people of colour over. Saying you don’t see it is discriminatory in itself and shows just how privileged you are that you get to exist in this world in the colour you are, and to pass by as yourself.

Get yourself educated and listen to black voices and voices from other groups to your own. Support their businesses, pay for their services, read their books, watch their talks, find their documentaries. It’s about passing the microphone that has been given to you so easily because of your privilege, and recognising that actually; we need to sit down, shut up, listen, and propel other voices forward.

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