I have noticed many people discuss privilege in newspaper articles, blogs, and social media lately. This is an important topic and we should discuss it thoroughly. However, I notice that there is some misunderstanding as to exactly what privilege means.
First, we must define privilege. Privilege is a right or benefit. If a person has privilege this may apply to perks associated with skin color or having plenty of disposable income, among other things. A person with a traditionally Caucasian name may have an easier time finding a job because some employers pre-judge a person, whether they mean to or not, because of a name. A person whose family has wealth receives benefits because he or she has enough money to avoid student loans if college is attended. Many people without such wealth do not even have the option of higher education even if they want it.
Many people have at least one type of privilege. Perhaps it is easy for you to have children and you have never struggled with fertility. Maybe you did not have to pay for college due to scholarships or family wealth. Perhaps you have fair skin and a traditionally Caucasian name. All of these are some form of privilege.
While privilege can lead to, but is not the same as entitlement. Privilege is something you inherently have either at one point in your life or throughout your life. Entitlement, when discussing privilege, is when you take privilege and use it for gain because you think you deserve it . Entitlement is still very ingrained into modern society in many ways. An example of entitlement would be when a person says another does not deserve children because fertility is only easy for those who are meant to have children. Entitlement also occurs when someone assumes that a female cannot do a job properly, but a male can do that job well. Entitlement occurs when police officers use racial profiling to determine who is stopped or investigated for a potential crime.
We need to discuss privilege so that we, and our children, do not take our privilege and use it to harm others. We need to discuss privilege so that we can move away from the way things are to a world where all people are considered equal regardless of age, ethnicity, sex, etc. We must be sure to evaluate our behaviors and attitudes often so we can choose not to buy into privilege, but rather focus on a world view that includes all people. Privilege is only here to stay if we choose to let it continue to rule us. It may take time, but we can force change.