No, that’s not an insult. It never has been and hopefully never will be, but because it is frequently seen as such and quite often creates a backlash of negative reactions, we need to talk about it. Especially in this new and very truly terrifying political climate. We need to talk about how to see it, how to acknowledge it and how it can contribute to fascism.
If you didn’t know (why wouldn’t you?), Donald Trump is tentatively the next president of the United States. Someone whose entire campaign has been almost completely based in fear-mongering, hatred, bigotry, racism and a whole lot of hot air whirling around false-positives and a huge lack of fact checking on both sides of the two party system.
Just recently, Zuckerberg incorrectly stated that the virus of fake news stories plaguing Facebook had no influence over the election results.
Some people think that privilege means you get a special cake on Fridays, or that you are somehow automatically a bad person due to your position in society. This isn’t true, although it certainly can lead to things that are less-than-desirable for society as a whole.
Such as a fascist white supremacist 4chan troll being elected to run the country.
What exactly is privilege then?
Let’s dive right into an easy example where I’ll use myself. I’m a white transgender woman. If you’ve been following me over the past couple of years, this has probably been pretty evident. As a trans woman, and especially under a Trump administration, I face a lot of different issues that include possibly losing access to even more jobs, bathroom rights and am at risk for violence.
But, compared to a transgender women of color, such as a black trans woman, I have much less of a chance of being subjected to a violent hate crime that could either land me in the hospital, or even worse, the grave. To add to that, because I am a white transgender woman, I also, by default, have a harder time seeing racism and will never be 100% qualified to speak about it, as I will never, ever experience it.
This is called white privilege. Just like when a white guy gets pulled over by a cop for speeding, he may only get a warning, but then if a black man is pulled over for the same reason, his chances of being shot and killed skyrocket.
White privilege, though, isn’t the only form of privilege. You have generational wealth privilege, where you’re born into money, like Caitlyn Jenner, or Donald Trump himself. You have able-bodied privilege, where your chances of success and survival are greater than those who are disabled. Then you have male privilege, something exclusively experienced by men, never to be conflated with trans women (as being a closeted trans woman is not a male privilege).
White and male privilege are probably one of the biggest contributors to the fascism coming into this country, and even the bits of it that have already existed for decades.
People who cast their vote for Trump with complete disregard and apathy for the minorities in this country (of which this presidency will negatively affect on so many levels), and in a lot of cases, out-right hatred, is what you call privilege that benefits and contributes to fascism.
If you can recognize your privilege, really see it, then you can help stop this from happening, or even happening again, in this case. You can use it to fight for those who aren’t safe enough to do so themselves. And I’m not talking about wearing safety pins, I’m talking about taking actual and direct action.
When you see hate crimes happening, harassment, slurring, do something about it. I don’t care if you’re liberal, conservative, anarchist or not, if you are anti-Trump then you need to unite and you need to stand up for those who can’t stand for themselves.
Apathy and inaction is no longer an option if we are to survive as a society built by immigrants, and recognizing privilege is just the beginning.