* Melissa McEwan’s post on privilege is as relevant to feminism as it is to civil rights for African Americans. Please take a few minutes out of what I know are, right now, very busy days and read it. Ms. McEwan explains that:
We cannot merely be aware of having privilege; we have to understand how it works, and what it does to our humanity.
Resocializing ourselves out of the toxic oppressions with which we were indoctrinated is work. It doesn’t happen by magic, and it sure doesn’t happen merely by declaring ourselves aware of our privilege.
Human beings are designed to be sponges, and we sponges are socialized every day of our entire lives by a bombardment of messaging exhorting us to privilege some people and treat others as less than. It is absurd to imagine that we can overcome this aggressive socialization without serious effort.
A socialization that tells people of privilege: You are superior. You are worth more than the people who lack your privilege. You are a better person.
It’s not true. In every way, privilege erodes our ability to connect to other people. It subverts our empathy, and diminishes our humanity.
Privilege gives us bad instincts, by design.
It tells us lies. So many lies.
And the most harmful lie it tells us is that we are objective, by virtue of our privilege.
This point was driven home to me during the debates over whether Justice Sotamayor would be “too biased” towards women, Hispanics, people of color, etc. to be a good Supreme Court Justice. As opposed to say, Chief Justice Roberts, for example, who was presumed not to be biased towards Patriarchy, white men, Catholic theocracy, the wealthy and the corporations that make them so, etc., etc., etc.??????? It is not true that the dominant culture has no biases and everyone else is biased. Privilege, as Ms. McEwan notes, gives us very bad instincts. And that’s why when colonized people say something to those of us with privilege, we need to sit still, be quiet, listen, and in Oliver Cromwell’s words, think it possible that we may be mistaken.
* I get a flu shot every year, thanks to my wonderful firm which makes them available, in office, for free. But it’s looking as if this year’s shot may be less effective than hoped. I am making sure every day to take a few shots of my cider vinegar. And my morning meditation includes some exercises to strengthen my immune system. What are you doing?