None of us need to worry about changing who we are because what makes us different makes us valuable. And value has privilege. The issue is how you use your privilege, in whatever category you can claim it, to make things better for other people. So, let's talk about privilege. Let's talk about YOUR privilege. Yes, I said YOUR privilege, no matter who you are.
Now, when I put the two words WHITE PRIVILEGE together, for obvious reasons that automatically makes people feel really uncomfortable, especially white people. Growth can be uncomfortable. And if you’re willing to work through this with me, you’re demonstrating a willingness to hear another perspective and that is a sign of growth. So, let’s continue.
The privilege of being a white man is a category of white privilege that is pretty much at the top of every power structure in the United States and many societies around the world. And then you've got the category of the white privilege of being a white woman who's only second to a white man in terms of the power structure here and many societies around the world. Remember, I’m known for “keeping it real.” Those statements are real.
Now, let’s take a deep breath and decouple the word “white” from the word “privilege.” If you are a first-born child, that's a category of privilege. If you are the baby of the family, that’s also a category of privilege. If you are a woman of any background, you have privilege because of the ability to birth a new life. If you are a first-generation high school or college graduate, you have the privilege of career options and lifestyles that come with education.
If you are a knowledge worker, you have privilege that allows you to continue earning a living during a pandemic because you have the option of working remotely. If you’re a c-suite executive, you certainly have privilege that affords you a myriad of options in an ever-changing economy, such as opportunities to hire nannies and arrange private study groups for your children among your peers when school and mask debates rage on.
And how about the privilege of being what some would consider to be non-compliant in terms of the mask and vaccine debates. I’m not taking sides here. I’m just bringing different categories of privilege to our collective attention.
I challenge you right now to think of any other category of privilege that you can claim. And then realize that yes, you do have privilege. We all do in at least one category if we think hard enough. An example I use with leaders is the person on the team who manages to get out of certain tasks because they claim they can’t do something for whatever reason. In such an instance, that team member is leveraging the category of victim for the privilege of getting out of certain tasks. Think about that.