Let’s have a talk about “privilege”

We need to talk about your privilege“Check your privilege.”

One simple phrase, yet it embodies so much arrogance and condescension. In a quest to see who can prove the most awareness and deepest expression of their white liberal guilt over things previous generations inflicted upon other groups, this catchphrase has become a shorthand insult to disqualify someone else from participating in the conversation, ostensibly because they were born in fortunate circumstances.

It’s a sad, pithy, and petty approach, a “personal insult posing as social critique” as The Atlantic put it. It’s also ineffective at actually making the world a better place.

For those of you who aren’t aware, “privilege” in this lexicon takes many forms, but it always refers to being part of a group with a perceived social or legal advantage over another.

You’re white? Privileged.

You speak English? Privileged.

You have a college degree, a steady job, a family that wasn’t dirt poor? You better believe you’re privileged.

The privilege movement seeks to find anything it can to explain why your success is not yours but built on the back of oppressing other people. This is why it’s a stupid phrase and a mean movement, diminishing any success you may have achieved through hard work as unearned.

Maybe we could agree that making people feel a sense of responsibility to their fellow humans is a lot more productive than trying to make them feel shame.

“Hey, you’ve done pretty well for yourself. Good for you! How about we go help this guy over here was wasn’t as fortunate?” See how that strikes a different tone and attitude than “I hope you enjoy your racist, sexist blood money from exploiting the working class”?

Do you think that maybe the former statement might encourage people to maybe take the initiative to take care of other people on their own?

If the goal of the “privilege” brigade is to better the circumstances of groups they believe to be at a social disadvantage, I have a hard time seeing how an “us versus them” mentality does it. For a group that often talks about “shared sacrifice” and “social responsibility”, they sure don’t seem to be making many strides to get people on board the train.


 

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