An (N.A.H.) Series: Uncovering Privilege

Here lies the showcase of individuals featured in Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian’s Uncovering Privilege Series. Read on to learn about the series, how you can participate, and browse the showcase below.

“Because oppression is seen as systemic, we tend to absolve ourselves of blame, but unless someone chooses to identify themselves with institutions and systems, the act of honest confession will never take place”–Author unknown

It’s easy to point fingers at others as if our own stuff doesn’t stink. Whats harder, but possibly even more necessary is to look at ourselves and find ways that we contribute to the chaos, so we can change that.

As I have said in my Vision & Values Statement, my experiences have shown me that in the process of working toward social justice outwardly, it is also important for me to continue to critically examine myself; shedding attitudes/behaviors that are oppressive, to make room for those that are more inclusive and humanitarian.

Excerpted from the note: Barely Scratching the Surface: Thoughts on Social Identities, Power, Privilege, & Oppression.

Undergoing personal work plays an important role in increasing our abilities to be able to use ourselves as advocates and allies to others as we work toward equity.

We have divided ourselves into various groups, with each group being given a specific value that has been used to determine our worth, and for some, at times have made us question our humanity depending on how much value has or has not been placed on our identity and personhood.

What am I talking about? Here are some ways in which we stratify ourselves:

  • By Race/Skin Color: ex. White/European-Black
  • By Class/Caste/Educational/Social Standing: ex. Wealthy-Working Class-Working Poor-Impoverished
  • By Sex, Gender & Gender Expression: ex. Male-Female, Masculine-Feminine
  • By Sexual Orientation: ex. Heterosexuality-Homosexuality
  • By Religion & Spirituality: ex. Christianity-other world religions-Agnosticism & Atheism
  • By Ability Status: ex. “Able-Bodied”-“Others”
  • By Age: Young-Old-Old-Young
  • By National Origin

There are many more groups in addition to those I have listed here, and even within those groups exists other groups with varying levels of difference. The issue that has created so many social problems is that a reality has been constructed to assert the inherent superiority of some groups over others.

Excerpted from the note: On Social Work in Society, for Me, It All Comes Back to Ubuntu.

Yet, even when actively seeking out new information, lack of awareness can still persist. Unearned privilege can be so deeply embedded in our lives to the point that we might not even be aware that we have it…to a point where we can believe that these benefits that are bestowed to us either intentionally or unintended are somehow a part of some “natural order”, and that folks who do not have the same benefits do not have them because some inherent deficiency on their part.

Without intervention, our own lack of awareness of the ways in which parts of our identities give us benefits that others do not have can be a roadblock which can cause us to do more harm than good and ultimately prevent us from becoming more humane to others.

Sometimes intervention can come in the form of experiences that bring our ignorance to our attention and challenge our preconceived notions.

An (N.A.H.) Series: Uncovering Privilege

Through this series, I invite you to share about an experience (or experiences) in which you realized that you had privilege in a certain aspect or aspects of your social identities, and what your journey has been like since then. What have you chosen to do with that information?

I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts and experiences here too.

I am actively seeking submissions for this series

If you’re interested in participating, and would like to contribute to this series and help ensure it’s growth, here are some things you can do.

1. Take some time to reflect on these prompts: Share about an experience in which you realized that you had privilege in a certain aspect or aspects of your identity in terms of different social groups you are a member of. What helped you to recognize that privilege? What have you chosen to do with that information? What has your journey been like since then?

2. Write your responses and send them to me via email at relando@notesfromanaspiringhumanitarian.com, or by filling out the contact form here. I may contact you to ask follow-up questions that might be included in the final post, as well as if there were any photos or social media handles you might want to include in your submission as well.

If you would you like to remain anonymous or have some other details about your specific identity removed,  let me know that in the details of your message and I will act accordingly.

If writing isn’t your preferred method of communication, you can send a link to a podcast, video, recorded message, photos, art, etc.

3. Share your submission, and this introductory post as widely as you can with others whom you think would also be interested in participating.

We are all both teachers and learners, and I’d love to hear your stories. I am hoping that this effort will serve as a source of connection and support as we navigate our individual, yet connected struggles and growth.

Here’s to “waking up”.

November 2013

Blindspot” Redacted: Uncovering Privilege

September 2013

“For The Betterment of Others”

August 2013

“Embracing Each Other is A Revolutionary Act”

Love & Peace,

From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins, MSW

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Written by

I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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