Privilege is a word that’s been used in social justice work for decades, but over the past couple of years I feel like the meaning of the word privilege has moved out of the fringes and has taken on a whole new sort of awesome power in the mainstream. As an Upworthy article puts it,
“Privilege means that some of us have advantages over others for any number of reasons we don’t control — like who we are, where we come from, the color of our skin, or certain things that have happened in our lives.”
A new awareness is erupting around privilege – white privilege, male privilege, socioeconomic privilege, and beyond – and I feel like all of the recent advocacy for Black Lives Matter, women’s rights, and other important issues has really shone a light on what it means to be privileged. I think understanding privilege is so important to furthering respect for others and fostering empathy in our society.
I came across a recent article a friend posted on Facebook that spoke to moms, asking us if we’re parenting from a place of privilege and to check ourselves – basically, to be aware.
Actually, the article specifically discusses classism but the underlying message I took from it is ultimately one of privilege. I, myself, need to check myself and my perspective when parenting, as well as when writing. Of course, a blog is subjective so I speak from my own personal experience, but there’s so much importance in self awareness. As a Canadian (living in America), white stay-at-home mom I’m privileged, and I have the privilege of being able to write a blog that reaches other moms. So my message to you moms (and dads – don’t forget the dads!) is this: let’s work toward identifying our privilege and stepping outside ourselves whenever we see an opportunity – which is every day, always – to imagine how someone else might feel. Especially when we make comments about “must haves” or “must dos” when it comes to parenting.
In the article “5 Ways Your Attitude About Parenting Might Be Classist,” the author, Katherine DM Clover, writes “As a person from a working-class background, who currently lives below the US poverty line, I’m no stranger to classism! However, I wasn’t prepared for how ubiquitous classist attitudes would be when I became a parent…. [T]hat struggle is never more obvious than when it is thrown into sharp relief by someone else’s assumptions about how we should be parenting.” She goes on, “At a certain point, it starts to sound like many people think ‘what’s best’ for children is to be raised in a middle- or upper-class home. But parenting isn’t a luxury activity only allowed for people of means. Many, many working-class and poor people are parenting right now – and doing a damn good job of it, too.”
This article left me with so much to think about – am I privileged in the way I’m approaching parenting?
Are you? I know, for me, with all of the amazing knowledge I’m soaking in about privilege I have big goals as to how to raise my sons; I want them to acknowledge their inherent privilege as they grow and know how to harness that for advocacy, for understanding. I want them to grasp that others aren’t necessarily given what they have been just by being born in a free country and having the skin they’re in and being male. Variables no one can control. I hope by the time they’re men the world has changed; regardless, I hope they’re men with self-awareness and empathy.
I’m going to leave you with some links to articles, videos, and comics I really like that explain privilege better than I ever could.