Updated: Mar 20
Now, think about this: even through the pain we endure that is caused by someone else, we have the privilege of understanding the depths of despair, to a degree that we never want anyone else to feel because of something we've done. Yes, there's even privilege in our pain.
Sometimes it’s even a privilege to connect to someone else through the pain of simply being human. So, when we reframe privilege into various categories that extend beyond “white privilege,” we can all relate to privilege in a way that allows us to use whatever category of privilege we can claim to benefit ourselves and, if we choose, someone else as well.
Only then can we begin to reframe our understanding of privilege and refocus on human affirming behaviors that lead to reimaging and co-creating a future we all want. In the same way that white males can use their privilege to “even the playing field” for everyone else, everyone else can use their privilege, however they identify that privilege, to make things better for someone else.
Notice that I didn't say that we could all relate to each other from the same starting point in life. I said that we can all relate to similar experiences of being human in a way that allows us to use our privilege to the benefit of others, such as the human experiences of feeling included and feeling excluded.
No matter who you are, there has been at least one time in your life when you experienced the sense that you didn’t belong. It’s more than a feeling of loneliness. It can lead to feelings of being devalued, demoralized, discouraged, disillusioned, dismissed, and the list goes on. And that's really the purpose of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging work.
It's not about white privilege in terms of worrying about being white. White people can't change being white any more than I can change being Black. None of us need 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. And if you think about it, that's just paying it forward in a more significant context. Paying it forward may require you to cultivate a change in behaviors that actively demonstrates a combination of love for humanity and laboring for justice as a labor of love.