#FMF – Privilege

Joining up with a whole bunch of fabulous writers over at Five Minute Friday, to write for five minutes on one subject and then head on over and see what others have got to say as well. One of my fave communities to be a part of.

This week’s prompt is a tough one.

(v) to exempt
(n) a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most

“The task of calling things by their true names, of telling the truth to the best of our abilities, of knowing how we got here, of listening particularly to those who have been silenced in the past, of seeing how the myriad stories fit together and break apart, of using any privilege we may have been handed to undo privilege or expand its scope is each of our tasks. Its how we make the world.” Rebecca Solnit

Privilege is such a complicated subject. Especially when it comes to the way that we relate to each other.

I was aware of my privilege at a young age, though I had no name for it.

I visited a friend’s home for a play-date one Saturday. I had a fabulous time. But what i did notice is that they had two chairs at their kitchen table and about 8 people who lived in the house. They had bunk-beds in their rooms but most shared one bed, but because they didn’t have enough blankets to go around and keep everyone warm.

At my home, I had my own room. I had my own bed. We had extra chairs at the table and not enough people to fill them.

another time, after my birthday party we took my friend home. We drove for quite some time on a road that seemed to meander endlessly. The marker for her home came up and we turned on what seemed to be mere tracks leading onto property. When we arrived at her home, my eyes grew large. I am not sure if I said anything but I’m sure she saw it on my face. She lived year round in the frigid cold with her family in a re-purposed School bus. I didn’t see inside but dropped her off and said thank you for coming to my party. I cried all the way back home. I couldn’t believe that people had to live like that.

And I don’t know the situations of each family. I don’t know what brought them to the place of having little, while I had much more. But it broke my heart. At that time, I don’t think I truly grasped the poverty that I found myself in the midst of.

I’m much older now, and see a bit differently then I did then.

The question seems to always be, how can I help. Some would say that asking that question seems to move privilege along. What then is the next step? I hear lots of people shouting that there needs to be steps taken, but I’m not sure where one begins to lose privilege and pass it on to someone else, or if that is even possible, or wanted.

I long to listen, to have this conversation, but how do you approach these questions without somehow coming across as thinking you might have something to offer. Is that what is wanted in the first place?

I don’t have the answers. I don’t think I need to. But I do want to understand better.





6 thoughts on “#FMF – Privilege

  1. Privilege IS a complex subject, Janel – this prompt was one of the most challenging ones for me. And I agree with you that there is complexity in this concept because it affects how we relate to one another and what we DO with what we’ve discovered about our privilege. If we always see ourselves as the givers, never the receivers, then we miss out on something important I think. Thanks so much for sharing here.

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