Q&A: Question from students about what to do with our Privilege

What do we do with our privilege? With our privilege, how do we become an ally for underrepresented individuals?

You seek to understand how your privilege further oppresses others and seek to educate yourself every single day to decolonize your mind and actions. Simultaneously, seeking to educate others through meaningful (not preachy or condescending) dialogue. The best way to have dialogue (IMO) is to ask questions like ” I wonder what this would look like from another person’s perspective and how it might be hurtful or impactful”.

If whiteness or privilege (as we all have privilege and discriminations with intersecting social identities) is rendered invisible, that means we have to really seek it out to understand how it permeates everything we do. It’s in the air we breathe and in our skin. The values of whiteness are individualism and the power of its achievements, the devaluing of collectivism and activism for a better world, the power of silence and collusion and finally not truly seeking to understand, but to be right. We as humans tend to stick to the story that best fits our experiences, we want to be right in our understanding of the world. It’s really hard to see how perhaps another way of knowing and being in the world can be just as valuable.

I would also say when first having these dialogues around your privilege, try to build common ground and trust first, then ask inquiring questions about the different ways we could view a particular concept or view of the world. I am sometimes able to engage in these discussions, if I understand how we are socially constructed to swallow and live through our stories and how we look for confirmation bias to perpetuate these stories. It’s painful to see another perspective sometimes because it might seem like we are culpable (White folks in particular) and we want to defend, however its important to note that that person’s experiences are real and valid. We have to listen to that still, small voice that says, “Shhh, don’t defend, just listen”. It’s SUPER hard to do, but we have to try. That’s one step in deconstructing our privilege in order to have these conversations. Of course, there’s so much more to say so check out these resources.