This word. Privilege. It insinuates so many things in different contexts.
It offends some people. In some circles it's a totally taboo subject, as if people constitute their feelings about their own privilege a true reflection of what it actually means to be privileged in a society that has historically only valued one type of human being.
My life changed when I stepped back and saw for the first time the cushion that's wedged in between most of our white society and the rest of the world.
I saw how this cushion is what prevents us from fighting inequality whole-heartedly and all together. Prevents us from avoiding political and environmental catastrophe. Keeps us from healing trans-generational trauma and injustice. I started noticing the belief systems that have come out of this barrier; the privilege that was a part of my upbringing and of friends and family.
Not like I didn't have hardship. At a young age I experienced the foster care system and dealt with having parents with severe drug addictions. I dealt with self-mutilation and sexual trauma that has taken me years to heal from.
But I have never experienced what it is like to be judged for the color of my skin. To be severely oppressed by a political system that is completely indifferent to my rights and needs. To lose a family member as a result of prejudiced police brutality.
I have never experienced what it is like to be a refugee because of a political or religious war, with nowhere to call home and half of my family murdered or missing.
I have not experienced what it is like to be an animal locked in a filthy cage in a CAFO, doomed to die from the day I was born. To glimpse the sunlight for the first time on the way to the slaughterhouse.
I do not know what it is like to continuously fight the battle to protect my land from a constant onslaught of corporate interest and degeneration. To be aware that the government currently in power is the same government that exterminated and abused my people.
So without these experiences, what can we do as privileged persons? Can we still feel the heartbreak for our human family? Can't we use this knowledge and awareness to help create better systems, to help peel back the layers of this post-colonization era? Since I'm supposed to keep my blog posts relatively short, we can save more of this discussion for later :)
and I'll leave you with this quote from a tribe elder in the Ecuadorian Amazon--
"Our fathers told us that for future generations not to suffer, we needed to struggle for our territory and our liberty. So we wouldn't be slaves of the new kind of colonization."