First I want to acknowledge that the report from the Inquiry into the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was released in Ottawa yesterday. I want to read more about what it says before I write about it.
In the meantime, a little something about privilege.
The cover of NOW Magazine in Toronto last week said “For the People” – except People is crossed out and Privileged is written underneath instead. The line underneath says “Can Doug Ford’s plan to dismantle the social welfare state in Ontario be stopped?”
It got me thinking about class privilege.
Here are some things that came to mind as I walked home with my dry cleaning after picking up the NOW.
Class privilege – a few things to suggest you may have it.
If you don’t know where the nearest food bank is to your home.
If you don’t know what the food bank’s hours are.
If there is always something to eat at home, or you can easily get yourself something.
If you don’t skip meals because there is (really) nothing to eat at home.
If you don’t have to choose between food and rent because your money is tight.
Those are some of the easy and obvious things to think about when we think of class privilege and poverty. But here are a few others that are not as drastic, but that also signal class privilege.
More examples of class privilege
If you are a parent and can afford a paid babysitter to have a regular night out.
If you can accept an invitation to join friends for lunch or dinner without worrying about how much it will cost.
If you can afford to buy groceries when you need them.
If you get your clothes dry cleaned.
How about these:
If you can afford birthday gifts for your loved ones.
If you can afford to go on vacation.
If you can afford to go on vacation with your family.
And here are a few more…
If you can walk into a store and not worry about the price of the things you buy.
If you can go grocery shopping and not do a mental price tally as you walk through the aisles.
If you need something you can just purchase it.
There are so many more – more subtle, and more obvious. Some that show the large divide between very wealthy and very poor, and the not-so-subtle divide between levels of middle class.
But what I hope these examples point to is exactly what privilege is about: that when we have it there are things that we will never have to think about or worry about (thanks Franchesca Leigh for that great definition!)
Class privilege (and lack thereof) has a face…
In addition to highlighting privilege today, I would be remiss if I didn’t also include that in Canada (and the USA and many other countries) poverty and other identities intersect. This means it’s more likely that you are poor/have low income if you are a woman, a person of colour, Indigenous, a person with a disability, a senior citizen, a new immigrant, someone who identifies as LGBTQ2S (particularly the T), etc….
This is because of the way systemic discrimination undermines self-esteem, leads to less positive role models, creates negative expectations, assumptions and stereotypes. All of which can lead to less opportunity, success, and ultimately representation.
And the cycle continues.
When we recognize inequities like these, and notice our privilege, we can create communities that are “for the people”.