I do it, and I do it big. Here's to not forgetting about it.

Posts tagged ‘Privilege’

See all this melanin? I STILL got pre-checked by TSA. Racism must be dead: Part Two

So, I went to Jamaica and ran. The trip was exciting to me from the get go, y’all. I looked at my boarding pass and saw something I had never seen before: Pre-checked by TSA! Pre. That seems important. As I walked toward security, I noticed that there was the line for the proletariat and the line for pre-checked. Friggin’ sweet. I was through the line within moments instead of wondering if I was going to make my flight. Ah, the good life.

If this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone, right? I mean, I AM darker than a brown paper bag. If you see “Lady J” on a flight manifest you probably won’t think ter…see. I don’t even want to finish the word because I want to be pre-checked again. I know y’all are watching, WordPress. Of COURSE the government doesn’t screen people based on race, sex, or religious affiliation. Because people are fair everywhere, right? Especially those with power.

I found it ironic that soon after I was in the air, I watched the video of Eric Garner’s death in sheer horror. Apparently, selling loose cigarettes warrants paying with your life. I say this is ironic because I know with great certainty that like my amazing TSA pre-check, that would not happen to just anyone. There are classes in this country that are simply more privileged than others. Who is the most uncomfortable with this? The privileged.

It’s like the feeling I got today when I was getting my nails did at the salon. My tech and I come from VERY different backgrounds. I am definitely more Hilary Banks than Florida Evans and the tech was talking about not having earned her GED. I don’t want to pat myself on the back for not having pat myself on the back, but I will say this – I understand that many things were in place for me to be able to achieve what I have. The vast majority of those things were completely out of my control – the family I was born into as well as the way my parents raised me. Yes, I absolutely have free will and I’ve made some pretty good choices. The environment was set up for me to do so. It is by God’s grace that I am where I am. If tech were to say to me, “Lady J. I could be where you are if I had had the opportunities you did,” what could I say? “Probably.” You know what I wouldn’t say? “Where you are is your fault.” I don’t have enough knowledge to say that. However, I DO know enough to know that I, Joan, am incredibly blessed.

Why is it that many who purport to follow Christ have such a problem admitting they benefit from things over which they have no control? I thought when you accept Jesus into your heart you acknowledge that there’s no way you could receive grace and mercy by your own doing. You know why some people were less disturbed by the video of Eric Garner’s death? Imma tell you why. Because some people KNOW it will never be them or their child whom the police would kill like that. And it’s not because no one else’s child is above selling loose cigarettes.

Those of you who insist you have everything that you do because you’ve pulled yourselves up by your own bootstraps seem to take for granted that you were given shoes in the first place. Not everyone gets Pre-Checked, y’all.

And perfect eyelashes, apparently.

And perfect eyelashes, apparently.


The Perils of Privilege: Why holidays are a BFD

I’ve always found the response of “first world problems” to any seemingly trivial complaint to be problematic. While its intent may be to remind the complainant of his/her blessings, the implication is that once you reach a certain level of privilege that you don’t have real problems any longer. Moreover, I think the response gives an excuse to the respondent to be dismissive. Why, especially if a friend is telling you s(he) is struggling with something, would you essentially say “Hey. You’re stupid for even thinking you have a problem.”? The issue is either legitimate OR if the complainant truly has a problem with seeing how blessed s(he) is, perhaps you could restore them in a way that is less abrasive.


If The Lord knows something that appears as inconsequential as the number of hairs on our head, surely we can do a better job of listening to each other’s struggles.

I say this to say I believe that first world problems are very serious ones. Not the problems themselves, necessarily, but what having them means. As I am teaching the babies patriotic songs, we discuss the reason we sing them and the sacrifices that those who have served have made so that we can freely discuss anything. The first day we sing them, everyone is generally well-behaved and respectful.
The babies get it – people have done things for them so that they could be there. They appreciate being able to sing and play and learn. The next time I see them, someone is invariably distracted or goofing off. I’ve got to remind them again – don’t forget why you are able to be here! They tighten up quickly.

Without exception – the older the students get, the more reminders I have to give.

I don’t think this is a coincidence. The more experience that we have with privilege, the more we tend to take for granted. That is a big ass problem. It has to do with more than honoring our amazing military. Upon their shoulders stand parents, teachers, and who knows who else that enable all of us to live lives that most people in the world could not even imagine. In a strange twist, too often we are caught up in creating and living that life we forget why it is that we’re able to do anything.

I wish we didn’t need holidays for those reminders. We really should live every day remembering the sacrifices of others. It is because increase in privilege does not mean decrease in fragility and fallibility that we must make special effort to honor our heroes.

Happy Memorial Day!

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