Recently I was reading a timeline about a major NBA basketball decision and discussion continued on with ranking the greatest NBA players of all time….I took the bait and hopped in the conversation but was met rather quickly into the conversation with this tweet…
“This is why I can’t discuss sports with a girl, no offense…”
No offense is a phrase that people throw out to justify their insulting, degrading and/or inflammatory speech. “No offense” carries the same weight for me as “oops my bad” does in the land of apologies. Why do many people throw caution to the wind with their offensive speech and half-hearted apologies…..privilege.
Privilege has existed since the beginning of mankind. There have always been the have and the have-nots, us and them, elite and non-elite mentalities permeating everyday life. Privilege oozes out of our pores carrying an unbearable stench. For some, the stench surrounds them like a large dust cloud whereas as with others the stench is subtle and often times can be remedied with a quick spray of reality/truth Febreeze©
Privilege shows up in a variety of forms: racial, socio-economic, religious, and gender just to name a few. Privilege also can manifest itself in a variety of behaviors/actions:
- Classifying/Labeling a group of people based on the behavior/action of one
- Organizers/Leaders only including the same handful of people to speak at events, not interested in finding new voices
- Blindly justifying the actions or words of those individuals who share your same privilege
- Maintaining a professional network so small almost everyone in it is a carbon copy of you
You have privilege, whether you want to recognize or not. What each of us decides to do with our privilege is the real issue in my mind. Many people use their privilege to:
Hide. Excuse actions. Blame others. Dismiss. Devalue others. Exalt only themselves.
As usual, I like to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. I recognize the privilege I have and instead have decided to use my privilege to:
Be more selfless. Show more empathy. Actively love people unlike me. Listen. Illuminate people the spotlight shuns.
Big difference between acting on your privilege and actively fighting the comfort privilege provides is clear. Less me more we. Less self-interest more selflessness. Less talking more listening. Less hate more love.
Below is a very powerful line from one of my favorite movies (The American President) that really sums up privilege, its power, and stench (I subbed the character’s name for the word privilege).
“Whatever your particular problem is, I promise you ‘privilege’ is not the least bit interested in solving it. ‘Privilege’ is interested in two things, and two things only: making you afraid of it, and telling you who’s to blame for it.”
-Andrew Shepherd (The American President)
Hey, what’s that smell? Do you smell that stench?