For the last installment of the series, I have two more common examples of privilege to share. Both are based specifically on identities: race and gender.
The first example is thanks to Hadiya Roderique, who wrote an amazing article for the Globe and Mail last weekend entitled Black on Bay Street.
Although Hadiya was specifically speaking about her experience applying for a position in the Legal profession, she recounts the challenges many visible minorities face when seeking employment – starting with how (or if) their resumes are received if their names identify them as not being white. White privilege extends even to situations where you can’t see the person, by virtue of the names we associate with skin colour. Of course, there is more…
The second example is mine. I spent some time this week in business meetings with a male colleague with whom I’m working on a project. On both occasions, the people with whom we were speaking chose to make eye contact almost exclusively with him – with the exception of when I was speaking. But here’s the more interesting thing: same lack of eye contact with me from the man and the woman! (And I’ve controlled for race, because all of the people involved are of colour). So I may as well not have been at those meetings at all. I felt invisible. Which is the antithesis of having privilege.
The challenge with privilege is we often don’t notice it for what it is. These are clear examples of racism and sexism on the one hand – but they are also examples of privilege. Because in these cases white applicants and males experience access and a level of respect simply because of their identities. That’s privilege.
So while these are fairly obvious examples of privilege, it’s still possible for people to read this and discount it – men, women, white and racialized people alike. There will be reasons given that sound plausible, reasonable even – until you look at the bigger context of the systemic nature of both racism and sexism (the other side of race and gender privilege). And then those arguments fall apart.
Except that not everyone is familiar with those arguments, or realities. And so we keep having to prove that these situations are discriminatory on the one hand, and about privilege on the other.
Let’s talk about it…
What other manifestations of privilege are you experiencing or seeing?
Join us on Thursday at 2:30pmEST on Zoom to talk about it. No registration required. https://zoom.us/j/856382748