Monday, March 26, 2012

The audacity of privilege

priv·i·lege: a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor : prerogative; especially : such a right or immunity attached specifically to a position or an office
~Merriam-Webster 
A privilege is a special entitlement to immunity granted by the state or another authority to a restricted group, either by birth or on a conditional basis. It can be revoked in certain circumstances. In modern democratic states, a privilege is conditional and granted only after birth. By contrast, a right is an inherent, irrevocable entitlement held by all citizens or all human beings from the moment of birth.
~Wikipedia 

priv·i·lege [priv-uh-lij, priv-lij] noun,verb, -leged, -leg·ing.noun

1. a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most: the privileges of the very rich.
2. a special right, immunity, or exemption granted to persons in authority or office to free them from certain obligations or liabilities: the privilege of a senator to speak in Congress without danger of a libel suit.
3. a grant to an individual, corporation, etc., of a special right or immunity, under certain conditions.
4. the principle or condition of enjoying special rights or immunities.
5. any of the rights common to all citizens under a modern constitutional government: We enjoy the privileges of a free people.
~Dictionary.com
Simply put, privilege generally means that those that have (or are in a better position to have) possess a preeminent and presumptive advantage over those who have not. 

It's this ideology that prompts an irrelevant Hispanic talking head (what's good, Geraldo? Nothing? That's what we thought too) to announce that an article of clothing was somehow responsible for Trayvon Martin's death. Is there anyone who truly believes George Zimmerman wasn't going after Trayvon if young Mr. Martin decided to rock a polo and khakis that fateful day?

It's this ideology that prompts one unfocused movement to try and steal shine from another extremely passionate and focused movement. I'm not sure what the end game is for Occupy Wall Street but I do know that it cannot be accomplished by piggy-backing on the outrage for Trayvon Martin. (For more on this, see @SlimJackson's post today)

It's this ideology that suggests that a police force that did not arrest George Zimmerman should now offer him protection? Someone please tell me this isn't happening.  Really, it's the very essence of privilege that George Zimmerman isn't sitting up on the jailhouse right the hell now.

In non-Trayvon related privilege... 

Privilege is what buoys a group of right wingers into presuming to tell women what they can and cannot do with their bodies. 

Privilege is what allows men (any man apparently) to tell women what they need to do to catch and keep a man. 

Privilege is what allows someone to stand in front of a podium talking about taking "their country" back. Whose country?

The funny thing about privilege... and the thing that those that enjoy it seem to forget... is that it can be circumvented, eroded or revoked. Like a credit card. It only works if it's accepted. Otherwise, it's just shiny and useless.

In my fam, we've labeled this The Entitlement Factor. Depending upon who is overplaying their privilege card, we mutter under our breaths "White Entitlement" or "Negreaux Entitlement" or "Blonde Entitlement" or "Deluded Entitlement" - apparently entitlement is what's hot in the streets... again. Though every once and a while, someone surprises you. Check out this post by Sinead O'Connor.

My least favorite thing about some of the Trayvon discourse I've heard is from folks asking, "What if Trayvon were white?" or "What if both parties were black, don't we care about black on black crime anymore?" Who seriously thinks this becomes a story of international interest in either of those scenarios? And why can't we be allowed outrage for this situation such as it is? 

BougieLand - must privilege go hand in hind with intolerant blindsidedness? Do you feel over- under- or any kind of privileged? Why or why not? Whose privilege would you like to yank away, never to be returned again? Thoughts, comments, insights....

45 comments:

Cheris Hodges said...

Amen! 

ASmith said...

I figure out better how to deal with other people's privilege by checking my own.  Probably the hardest piece of privilege I've had to accept is educated privilege.  Some days I feel like that's a bunch of hoo-hah, but other days I see it in action and absolutely can't deny it.

You can have privilege and have the good sense to see it and recognize it.  It boggles my mind when folks won't accept what's staring them right in the face, but then again, that's privilege at work.  Privilege is not knowing, in a lot of situations.  It is willful ignorance and that's the oppressive piece of it.  I can accept that white men are the default for everything in this country a lot better when they don't act like they're not and they have no clue why it seems that way.  Follow?

I'm ready for black men to acknowledge and accept their privilege... SO READY... even more ready than for white folks to get it together on that front.

Grace said...

I was once told I suffer from "Pretty Girl Privilege" - I didn't take it as a compliment. When your privilege is dependent on other people's approval and probably has a timeclock attached to it - it's not really a privilege is it?

Geraldo needs another chair chucked at his head, does he?

David Parrish, Jr.(Inkognegro) said...

I could write a book in here...but Chele wrote all that was necessary. 

I will only add these two things...

1. Privilege is most often something that is much to identify in others than in oneself.
2. You can be oppressed and STILL exercise privilege. (Brethren...I am talking to you)
 

Andrea M said...

 C'mon somebody...
Preach on it!

thinklikeRiley said...

New blog design is dopeness.

Ya know what doe? Folk just making up reasons to act all rarefied and brand new.

YOU AIN'T PART OF DA 1% IF DA BANK OWNS MO O YO ISH THAN YOU DO.

YOU AIN"T PRIVILEGED TO BE BORN WITH A PENIS IF NOT NAN WOMAN WANTS TO GET NEAR IT! (or man either, whateva, ride da rainbow and do you)

YO SKIN COLOR CAN'T SAVE YOU FROM IGNANCE!

Done got my pressure up. Up in here.
Riley out.

Page Bartlett said...

*spits out coffee*
OMG! Riley!
You are a fool!

Mo said...

I love the new design.
 No, privilege must not go in hand in hand with intolerant blindsidedness. Geraldo had the nerve to repeat his point again. I do not get it with these inflammatory statements.  What happened,  we are so polarized  even on issues like death? I stopped watching Fox I do not need  that pain in my life.

ShawnSoze said...

Life is too short for Faux News. An entire channel of privilege.

CaliGirlED said...

 No and YES!

CaliGirlED said...

 You have NO sense! Not nan sense whatsoever!!! LMAO

CaliGirlED said...

 "And why can't we be allowed outrage for this situation such as it is? "...THIS!!!...Why do we need to add to or take away from what it is??? It truly IS what it IS!

I don't think we will ever overcome the privilege of the caucasian male. The entitlement that they perceive to deserve is just mind boggling. Prime example, how are they still talking about, 'taking "their country" back'??? SMH

blackprofessor said...

Lord, my orange juice! YOU AIN"T PRIVILEGED TO BE BORN WITH A PENIS IF NOT NAN WOMAN WANTS TO GET NEAR IT! - This is the funniest thing I have seen in a long time!

blackprofessor said...

Good post Chele! 

I don't feel privileged.  I feel lucky that rampant racism, sexism and classism haven't crushed my soul and obliterated my dreams.  I would like to see privilege of any kind (white, male, upper class, straight) eternally revoked and never to be granted again.  I would love to live in a world that is truly an equal playing field in which everyone has equal opportunities for greatness regardless of their "differences". 

Leo the Yardie Chick said...

I read somewhere that Zimmerman's father is a retired judge. Boy, would that make a whole lot of sense where all this shielding is concerned!

md_KG said...

Love the new blog design. Very cute.

In another blatant case of non-Trayvon related privilege, I present to you the ignant pieces of cow dung who have the nerve to question the casting of Amandla Stenberg (Rue) & Lenny Kravitz (Cinna) in The Hunger Games.
It's so ridiculous how people project their own version of whiteness on a character (Rue) even when the book explicitly uses this language - "bright, dark, eyes and satiny brown skin" - to describe her! And for those wondering what Amandla looks like, I've attached an image. I just cannot imagine what the outrage and objection is all about especially when the person in question is so adorable.

GrownAzzMan said...

"My least favorite thing about some of the Trayvon discourse I've heard is from folks asking, "What if Trayvon were white?" or "What if both parties were black, don't we care about black on black crime anymore?" Who seriously thinks this becomes a story of international interest in either of those scenarios?  And why can't we be allowed outrage for this situation such as it is?"

Exactly. This is what we are outraged about right now. There are other things in the world to be outraged and take action about. Many of them are important. We will get back to some of them when this has been handled correctly.
Carry on.

md_KG said...

I hear you on the educated privilege.  I know I've been blessed to receive a good education and be exposed to a lot of different things. What I will not do is apologize for it or use it to browbeat anyone.

Hell will freeze over before black men ever acknowledge that privilege especially since it's not in their best interest...lol.

GrownAzzMan said...

"Geraldo needs another chair chucked at his head, does he?"

Yup

GrownAzzMan said...

Privilege and the ever dangerous Faux White victimness...

ShawnSoze said...

Yeah, had someone in the office tell me I was "keeping the white man down" - Sir... your delusional victimology is showing.

Leo the Yardie Chick said...

 Because she's also described as 'innocent', and innocent = white in the minds of too many people. Even the fan art, claiming to be based on her description in the book, has her as either blonde or red-haired, but always white. Hunger Games Tweets on Tumblr has been documenting the fail, and man if the fail isn't epic.

CaliGirlED said...

 "delusional victimology" *snatches this and runs quickly*

GrownAzzMan said...

That was supposed to be a joke right? SMH

md_KG said...

Oh Lord. Thank goodness I didn't see any fan art while reading or prior to watching or else I would have barfed. And you are absolutely correct re: 'innocent being = white'. As for that Hunger Games Tweets Tumblr? *sigh* It's unbelievably tragic. I fear for the future. I really do.

MidWestDominicana said...

Hey Chele, 
Great new layout and post! Thanks for sharing the Sinead O'Connor letter. I feel similarly to a lot of the sentiments she shared.

TrulyPC said...

All of this!!!

TrulyPC said...

Sigh.  My daughter is reading the series now and absolutely loves it.  I came across comments like the ones that you are referring to when I was doing research before purchasing them for her to read. So many sick and deluded folks make it hard to believe that things will ever be better where race is concerned.

TrulyPC said...

Great new look.  

I don't feel privileged at all.  I agree with everything that Black Professor had to say on this subject.  I will say that it gets so very tiring to have to deal with privilege in this world because it's sole creation is to inhibit another person.  So tired of it.

King Jordan said...

Is it posible to recognise one has 'privilege' and at the same time, acknowledge you don't have access to said privilege?

Cocoa Winston said...

If anything, I feel under privileged - like I've had to fight for every "privilege" I ever received. As you say, Le Sigh.

GammasWorld said...

You and Slim preaching today -- to the choir but nevertheless.  Perhaps just one will seek to understand.  Amen and Amen.  #CarryOn  

GammasWorld said...

Oh ... I've got one:   privilege is when a white coworker thinks it's okay to say "boss is treating me just like the black folks" ... and is serious.  

invectiva said...

I would like everybody's privilege, including my own, to be revoked for a year. Then I'd like to see what people do with their lives, their privilege, and their consciences, once they have it back. 

JojoRaze said...

I just want to say one thing about the "no one cares about black-on-black crime meme" spouted by people trying to justify Zimmerman.  When two black teens or black morans shoot each other over a girl, territory, "you said something about my mama" etc, it is TREATED AS A CRIME.  The people involved are criminally prosecuted and sent to jail because they present a clear and present danger to society.  I am not shocked that G. Zimmerman shot Trayvon, I'm shocked he hasn't been charged and the crime wasn't properly investigated.  That is the tragedy--that an unarmed teen walking about his business is shot by some vigilante and the police just Kanye-shrugged.

CaliGirlED said...

 You have GOT to be kidding me!!!

GrownAzzMan said...

Exactly. If Zimmerman was in jail as he should be, awaiting trial you would not have nearly as much public outcry. There would be some sympathy for the family and we would move on. I would not have to be going to rallies and my twitter and facebook profiles would not be me in a hoodie.

CaliGirlED said...

Look at GAM all hoodied out!

Brenda Kay said...

This same ignorant outrage occurred when Idris Elba was cast in the movie "Thor". Movie blogs and news sites were flooded with indignant outrage that a Black man was appearing in a movie based on a Marvel comic book character who in turn was loosely based on Norse mythology. I found it rather amusing and ironic that Idris Elba's character in the movie was the one who displayed the most intelligence and an uncanny ability to discern what was really going on. 

AnthonyJ1167 said...

Pause for the cause...  


I feel its my privilege to say you're all here preaching to the choir while somewhere in Sanford Fl, Seminole County or Florida state government there is an elected official that has the authority to get the wheels of justice grinding and hold Mr Zimmerman accountable for Trayvon Martin's death. And, to hold accountable the people who are stalling the process. 

http://sccpta.com/?page_id=136 

Monica said...

This. All day.

Monica said...

 I just finished reading about this and it made me ill. I really do think that racism should be declared an mental illness,  the way it makes people act defies logic.

EvolvingElle said...

So, I'm probably not going to answer your question, but I just want to commend you fora great post.  You've brought up the same things I've discussed with friends and have thought about privately.  And the only reason I haven't blogged further about Trayvon is because it's so draining to think about, let alone write about.  And as Anthony eloquently put, you are preaching to the choir.  And apparently the majority of Americans (approximately 75%) believe Zimmerman should be arrested.  And as I tweeted yesterday (in response to young Trayvon being suspended for drugs), I don't care if Trayvon had a pipe in his hand, it still didn't give Zimmerman the right to shoot him.
To answer your question (so you can tell I read your post today), I don't feel privileged.  I'm a double minority, and I've always been taught and believed that I needed to work, study, and fight a little bit harder than Becky who was sitting next to me. 

Reggie said...

Excellent excellent, timely post.

rikyrah said...

 GREAT POST

it's NOT an either/or thing.

since I'm outraged about Trayvon, it means I don't care about Black on Black crime.

of course, I do. I have enough outrage to be mad for BOTH situations.

I will throw back that those bringing up Black and Black crime, like it's something new, don't give a shyt about it, and only want to use it to divert from Travon, cause they don't care about it either.

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