Privilege is the unearned advantage that we have. It is also called “birth Lottery” and people who have it are blind to it. Recognising our privileges, realising the price associated with it, acknowledging those who are not as privileged as us and using privilege for collective good will make us better humans and the world a better place to live.
Stereotypes, Unconscious Bias and privileges create an unloved playing fields for individuals including at our workplace.
Imagine you are standing on an imaginary line, which is a starting point for a race. Before the race starts, the referee calls out couple of questions, the ans to which is only True or False. With every True you take one steps forward and with every False you stay in your place.
- Your upbringing was in metro city
- Both your parents were graduates
- Both your parents were alive and together at least till your graduation
- You studied in an English Medium school
- You parents paid for your college
- You had access to tuitions at every stage in your school / college
- During your school or college, you were never ridiculed or looked down upon for your looks could be your weight, skin colour (complexion), Height, features , or your spectacles
- You were never cat called
- Your choice and your parents’ choice of your life partner is the same
- You are watching my talk and understanding it.
Now the Referee blows the whistle for you to start running. All those who were ahead by virtue of all the ayes have a definite advantage over those who were not able to move any steps at all. And, this is how life is.
Some of the Commonplace privileges
For anyone who got into IIT, understand how important it was for them to go to special tuitions. Affording to be able to go to the tuition classes, or access to the books that help me prepare are privileges, which many other may not have.
Gender studies confirm men have definite advantage in Economic, Social, political areas in life. Women have disadvantage including the access to the family wealth owing to the patriarchal mindset.
Dr. Michael Kimmel a socialist and a specialist in gender studies and also editor of Men and masculinity says “Privilege is invisible to all those who have it.”
June is considered to be PRIDE month. Where we commemorate the sacrifices & celebrate the contributions made by the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community. Being a Cis-Gender is a privilege. Cis gender i.e. those who conform to the gender norms as defined by the society at large or the binary definition of gender.
The word transgender reminds us of the Hijra community who are often seen at weddings, childbirth. Speaking with them to understand the privilege they lack, would help us bridge the gap
COVID times have been tough. These times are specially trying for the marginalised communities. Extending a helping hand to these communities, help us create a more equal world.
Work from Home privileges
When you were asked to work from home
- You already had a internet connection
- You have a personal device / laptop / computer system
- You have a dedicated space at home which you can use as office.
- You have a bank balance that can take care of your basic needs for next three months
- You have someone to help you with household chores
- You have someone with you at home. You are not alone or lonely
- Our children are able to access online classes. There is a large part of the society who’s children do not have access to digital medium.
These are all privilege, we have to observe and acknowledge these privileges. With privilege comes power.
The Price of Privilege
The recent talks about Nepotism in Bollywood film industry, put the star kids into a spotlight. While they do have an advantage over those who have no Godfather in the industry, let us also not forget the constant comparison the star kids have to face with their parents. This is the price they have to pay
Similarly, children who are born into business families have the privilege to have a better start than those who lack resources. Inheriting family business comes with a responsibility and accountability.
Is guilt an answer?
With this privilege, do I carry the guilt? Feeling guilty that I have a place to stay and my plate has food on it, while there are migrants walking thousand of miles just to go back to their natives.
Instead of feeling guilty, can I be an Ally to make the world a better place. Someone comes out as a gay, why do we look at that person in a different light? The person has taken so long to come out of the closet. Take the opportunity to become an ally and support the individual.
How can I use my privilege to help the larger society for those who have no earning? Many movie stars have offered their support to help the migrant labourers. I may not be in a position to match what the multimillionaire are doing, but I can make a small contribution. Just helping my staff e.g. my domestic help, my driver who are no longer with employed with me would be a great support.
Tuning into our privileges for greater good
- Recognise and acknowledge our privileged
- Accept it comes with a price.
- Look at ways to connect with people who are less privileges
- Use it for collective good. Extend your support.
The Non-Absoluteness of Privilege
To close the conversation, privilege is not absolute. By saying absolution, I mean, I may be privileged in certain areas of my life I may lack privilege in other areas. Tuning into our privileges means bridging the gap between not only those who are less privilege than us and also those whom we perceive are more privilege than us.