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Old 12-31-2009, 08:23 AM
Ravenesque Ravenesque is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 297

Originally Posted by Ceoli View Post
I'm sorry, but honestly, I would prefer to be treated like an adult. I've worked with people who take on the attitude you describe and the effect of it is very condescending. Instead of assuming that I know more about someone else's anger than they know, I'd rather listen to them as an equal. ESPECIALLY if I'm in communication with someone who is marginalized. To treat them as a child that I must take a parental role would just marginalize them further.

Because privilege is the very thing that creates oppression. If I'm using my privilege to make life better for someone who is less privileged, I then become a gatekeeper to that person. Their life is only better because choose to allow it to be. The decisions are not in the hands of the people who are affected by it. This is not empowering and continues to allow those in privilege to keep it while still feeling like a good person. The person I'm helping is no better off. This is why a lot of charity work doesn't actually work. It tends to keep people in their place rather than equalize things. The only way to really make progress with oppression is for those who hold privilege to relinquish it.

Here's a practical example: One of the anti-racism workshops I that I was in involved a fishbowl discussion. In this case, the white people were in the room and listened to the people of color discuss their concerns and issues and hurts and such. We were not allowed to speak. We were only allowed to listen. That was one area where we gave up our privilege. Yet even that was difficult for some. When we finally were allowed feedback, one person brought up that a lot of those issues the people of color had could be solved with hard work and if black people just applied themselves more they would find the same opportunities. After all, other black people have managed that and this guy volunteered to tutor inner city kids. He couldn't see how saying that was another manifestation of privilege. The facilitator responded with this powerful question: "Who do you think understands the experiences and challenges of being a person of color in white privileged society? You or the people who have lived it all their lives?"

For me to expect these people to set aside their anger for my sake or for the sake of making the discussion more civilized or for the sake of meeting a middle ground that suits me more than they after these people had bore their souls of the hurt and oppression they've experienced all their lives is one of the worst ways I could wield that privilege.

So what's so bad about privilege? Probably nothing much for those who have it. Perhaps the worst thing about having privilege is that it really inhibits people's perceptions of the experiences of oppressed people. But for people who don't have privilege, it's a continual cycle of having to fight for the same things that others have been given without even earning it. This is the case for gender, race, orientation and sometimes people who identify as poly. The confusion around poly people and privilege lies in the fact that most people who identify as poly around these parts (I mean North America and parts of Europe) are white middle class or upper middle class privileged people. They can choose to live outside of such norms because their privilege lowers the societal cost they have to pay. It's not quite the same as not being privileged. However, when we go into things like the right to marry and partake of the unearned gifts of society around that, then it applies a bit.

I agree dear Ceoli. Brilliant. I couldn't have stated anything written in your post better myself. I have participated in workshops and seminars as the one you described. Your insights do help bring me additional hope for positive change in the world.


Last edited by Ravenesque; 12-31-2009 at 08:27 AM.
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