Has anyone recently told you to “check your privilege”? Our society is inundated today with all sorts of so-called progressive ideas, and the notion that certain groups of people are inherently privileged is fairly new. But is it true, or is it just another made-up form of class-warfare?
Haves and Have-Nots
There have always been those who have more of something than others. Some people have more money, or more talent, or seemingly more intelligence. Others might have more charisma, or more exciting jobs, or even the type of lifestyle that can make people jealous of them. But none of these things necessarily qualify as an actual privilege.
It’s possible that the one who seems to have more options in life worked really hard to achieve that goal. Not to say that everyone else was just lazy, but there are many factors that can account for the presumed failure of some and the apparent success of others. People are different. They have different circumstances, and the deck often seems to be stacked against some of them.
Types of Privilege
According to modern society, there are several kinds of “privileged” people. If you are a man, many believe that you inherently benefit from male privilege. They say that, simply because you are male, you enjoy certain benefits that women never have and never can because of an established anti-female bias. But is this true?
We’ll come back to that, but let’s look at another example… If you are white, caucasian, Anglo-Saxon, or however you want to describe your pale-skinned ethnicity, then there are those who claim that you benefit from white privilege. Yes, just because you’re white, you enjoy certain benefits that other people don’t and can’t due to an established bias against them. Is this one true?
You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!
While it’s true that, at one time in our nation’s history, women did not have equality in many ways with men, we have made some enormous improvements since then. The women’s suffrage movement helped garner support of enough men to win ladies the right to vote. And let’s not dismiss the MEN who argued on the side of those women. Today, women can serve in the military, or as Supreme Court Justices, or could even be elected president.
But wait! There’s still the matter of the pay-gap between men and women, right? Well, there IS an argument about a supposed “pay-gap” by some. However, that argument falls apart when you factor in the types of jobs that most men choose to work and the types of jobs that most women choose to work. Do that, and there IS NO PAY-GAP. “Equal pay for equal work” has been around for a very long time now.
Civil Rights Achievements
The same thing can be said for people of color. During the formative years of America’s history, huge strides had to be made to correct the mistakes of our past. And what many people don’t know is that a large portion of the (white) men who framed the Constitution actually had a distaste for slavery because of their Christian faith.
Even while they were pressured (both by time and by other delegates) to structure the founding document in a way that didn’t restrict or do away with slavery outright, they still succeeded in providing a path to citizenship for slaves in the future. By using certain wording to describe the God-given equality of man and rights to freedom, they believed – once their war for independence was won – they’d be in a better position to address the issue of slavery.
It wasn’t a perfect solution to the problem by any means, but it seemed to be the necessary step to take at the time. And the path to freedom for those slaves took longer than anyone hoped. It took a bold stand by a future president to end slavery in America, and a not so civil war, as well. Since then, more hard fought victories were won for black Americans.
Today, a man or woman of color can achieve anything. Some may still argue, but despite the backward notions of a few bigots, you can’t deny that many of our elected leaders are black, Hispanic, and Asian. We’ve even had a black president.
Is there still racism? Yes, although not nearly as much as some folks would have you believe. America isn’t perfect. But she is beautiful, diverse, and YES – great! So let’s talk about real privilege…
I woke up this morning and realized something that shocked me. I…am privileged. Yes, ME. No, not because I’m male. And not because I’m white. I’m privileged because… I. Am. An American.
There are so many people who cannot claim this. They may live in less fortunate conditions, they may live in socialist or communist countries, or they might even been born into servitude somewhere in the world where slavery still thrives. They may be persecuted for their religious beliefs, or their government might try to run every aspect of their lives. They may truly live in the worst of poverty because their dictatorship greedily confiscates all the wealth. They may go to sleep on the ground rather than a bed, hungry rather than with a full stomach, and have little to nothing to look forward to tomorrow.
There isn’t a female American of voting age that isn’t allowed to vote. There’s not a single black American alive today who was born into slavery. Even where poverty exists in this country, there is opportunity for those who are more fortunate to lend a helping hand to someone in need – provided the more fortunate also has been instilled with a sense of morality and courtesy.
America is still “the land of opportunity,” and that opportunity is afforded to us all. While some argue that opportunities to better oneself are only enjoyed by a lucky few, I strongly disagree. I’ve seen people from the poorest of backgrounds work hard and achieve the loftiest of goals. I know it’s possible. And those who really BELIEVE they can accomplish anything are usually the ones who DO.
The Bottem Line
So if this is true, then what’s up with all the allegations of “privilege?” Often times, when someone is losing an argument, that person must childishly invent a disqualifyer to use against the opposition. Like, “your opinion doesn’t count because you’re a man.” How is that not sexist? Or, “you just don’t understand because you’re white.” There is nothing at all constructive about such statements.
These claims are an extention of the victimhood mentality. If I can just point my finger at someone and call them privileged, it’s the same as claiming victim status for myself. And as we all know, here in America, so-called victims are the ones who end up with the real perks… Which then makes them the privileged ones. Irony?
I’m a victim of something, so I should get special – uhmm – consideration. HA, you mean special PRIVILEGES?! And the fact is, people in this country have it better than anyone else on the planet, and yet too many think they are entitled to so much more.
Again, I don’t mean to downplay people who have real needs. Those of us who can help the genuinely needy SHOULD help them. This is about the victimhood mentality and its pervasiveness in our society. Saying I’m somehow privileged just because I’m a white male is ridiculous, and it’s insulting to you who say it. In so doing, you are downplaying your own potential and essentially saying that you are somehow incapable by comparison. You’re basically saying that I’m better than you, and there’s nothing you can do to change it because you were just dealt a bad hand. Please.
“But I have an unfair disadvantage!” Try telling that to Job. Things were going great for a while. He had a family, livestock, riches, and good health. Then one after another, it was all taken from him. He lost everything. Even his health was failing. He had painful, oozing sores due to disease, and the few friends that he had left gave him the worst advice of all time.
“Dude, you really should just go ahead and curse your God – who is OBVIOUSLY not concerned with you at all anymore – and die.“
Did Job say, “Y’all are right. I’m a victim of enormously unfair circumstances here! I’ve been faithful to God. I’ve been a good man, a good husband, a good father… All for what? Just to see everything taken from me? I really need to give God an ear full about this! I deserve better!”?
No, he didn’t say any of that. In spite of his situation, he knew what manner of man he truly was, and he knew that his God had not forgotten about him. Job rebuked them and said, “No! I will NOT be a victim. No matter what my circumstances now, I know my God is faithful, and in His time, He will deliver me! I will stand firmly in my faith, and I will accept what God says is best for me in my life – or if He so chooses, in my death.”
[That’s the Gospel according to Stace right there – my own paraphrase, so don’t go trying to figure out what translation of the Bible that was. Y’all go read it for yourself.]
And what happened as a direct result of Job’s faith and his refusal to be a victim? God restored him in every way. His health, his wealth, everything. He had it better than ever before. That was his story, and it can be yours.
As Americans, we are ALL privileged to a large extent. Never downplay THAT by assuming some victim status for yourself. And as Christians, all-the-more, we are not victims or failures or anything less than OVERCOMERS! We are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus! Because of what He did on the cross, we share the greatest privilege of all… A holy inheritance… The gift of salvation and eternal life. So think on that for a while.
Think you’re a victim? Check your privilege!