Right Use of Privilege: How It’s Done


Bob, over at Eschaton, alerted me to this amazing video.

One of the facts of life is that some of us — well-educated, familiar with the law, relatively well-to-do, unafraid of the police — have a lot of privilege to throw around. And some of us — old, African American handymen who do odd jobs in upscale neighborhoods — not so much. And in between are the police officers, able to throw their weight around when dealing with old handymen but intimidated by women whose racial, financial, and legal backgrounds equip them to demand what address the police are looking for, to tell them that just because a man is black doesn’t make him a burglar, and to order the police to go find the correct address. (In the end, it seems to be the case that police were called to the neighborhood because a wealthy homeowner punched in the wrong security code. Which probably doesn’t make the handyman feel much better about being accosted. We all know that a white teen carrying a gym bag through the same neighborhood wouldn’t have been stopped.)

This is an inspiring use of privilege to make things better. Those of us who have it must become better at using it. I’d like to think I’d be this brave, this calm, this articulate (esp. in my nightgown and jacket). We can spend all day long regretting how our status privileges us. But that won’t change anything. Storming out in our nightgowns, challenging authority, and defending someone in need seems like a better solution to me.

I love the moment when the white attorney grabs the black man’s hand and says, “Come on, Dennis, you can go. Come on, you’re coming with me.”

I don’t know this woman, but she’s one of my heras.

Picture found here.


3 responses to “Right Use of Privilege: How It’s Done

  1. The things that touched you also touched me!

  2. That video is gonna go viral!

  3. Brava! So May It Be …..

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