Not White But Privileged

Privilege. The taste is bitter on your tongue and your fists begin to curl. The word is practically synonymous for white and yet, I, as an Asian, will wear the scarlet ‘P’ because just as I have witnessed oppression from our institutions, I must come face to face with my individual privileges. Make no mistake, it is no easy task. As a kid and maybe even now, we feel this need to one-up one another, even when it comes to misery, or at the very least we want to relate. Afterall, misery likes company and there is nothing wrong with that, but since when did pity lead to power? Why allow those who oppress you to strip you of your voice?

If you are reading this, you are privileged. You have access to the Internet. You have a technological advice. You most likely heard of Her Campus through your college. You are educated. None of this is meant to be an attack, but to some, it might seem that way because we associate privilege with an abuse of power, but that is most definitely not the case. 

Some things we are born into. It took me a long time to realize that despite being a minority, I have had so many advantages over others. I was raised in a well-off, safe, suburban community in a house with a white picket fence. Was I one of few Asian kids in my schools? Yes. Was I bullied? Yes. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that I didn't have an accent or a difficult-to-pronounce name, and I had parents that spoke English relatively well.

Some privileges snowball and accumulate. Since public schools are funded by property taxes of your community (along with government funding of course), I was effectually funneled from school to prestigious school. Did a divorce instantly drop my socio-economic situation? Yes. Did it ruin my chances of going to a private school? Yes. But did I acquire the prep, skillset, and mindset I couldn’t have received at a neglected inner city school? Most definitely.

Some privileges stay with us our entire lives. These are perhaps the hardest to see. I am cisgender, part of the “binary” that society reinforces. I am heterosexual (though I still believe sexuality to be on a spectrum). I am physically able and I have traditionally feminine features. Was I diagnosed with depression? Yes, but to be fair most people just haven’t gotten it checked out. Do I suffer from panic attacks and anxiety? Yes. But does that take away from the fact that I have a support system made up of countless friends and family? No.

These privileges have made me who I am today and that is not something I am ashamed of. I do, however, have a responsibility to recognize my privileges and to use what power I have been given (and subsequently cultivated) to bridge the difference and provide opportunities to others less privileged than I.

“What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.” -Brene Brown