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The one thing in our “children,” starting with the millennials, that has been instilled, is a since of pride. Pride in the soil on which they stood, whether it was American soil, Mexican soil or Canadian soil. Pride in where they lived and where they came from. They were taught to always remember their roots, no matter how far they made it in life and no matter how big they ever became. Jenny from the block ring a bell? They were taught to have pride in what they have in life and not what they didn’t have, but most importantly, pride in who they were as an individual in the sea of life. That pride was instilled in every child by every parent, nanny, housewife, working father, step parent, teacher, and anyone else who had influence in these children’s lives.
Pride and privilege are separate, but equal. Everyone has privilege whether they know it or not. Everyone has a privilege whether they use it or not. Privilege comes in all forms, shapes, colors, sizes, races, and classes. In as much as there is a white privilege, there’s also a black privilege…and just POC privilege in general. The only difference between the different privileges, is what they get you and what they don’t get you at any given time, and any given place, under any given circumstances. While white privilege can get you many things at the US border, for example, imagine what it gets you if you were dropped off in the heart of the ghetto in the middle of the Bronx with no ID, no money, and just the clothes on your back to show for it.
Pride and privilege can often be mistaken for each other separately, but can also be compounded with each other within an individual to form a nearly impenetrable force field around that individual that allows them to operate in a bubble where no one else seemingly exists to them outside of the digital world that has consumed them. They have become the ultimate consumer of all things the world has to offer at their fingertips, which is everything, including boundless knowledge. They absorb more, more quickly, and apply it to their real world lives when given the chance.
With an award for almost everything under the sun these days, the accolades for younger generations is as instantaneous as it is never ending, which builds upon pride and privilege. Participation certificates and awards were not a thing of my time or those before me. There was no participation certificate for surviving the Great Depression or the Holocaust for that matter. No, they weren’t willing participants, but making it through those deserved more than just a recognition of participation, it deserved a myriad of medals and trilogies and trophies. The memories alone are priceless and no doubt lessons from grand parents and great grandparents alike. The hard lessons in life like dealing with adversity despite having to swallow your pride and ignore the privilege you either did or didn’t have.
How quickly we can forget the plight that some have gone through to get where we are. They acted not just out of pride or privilege for themselves, but for entire communities, mostly underrepresented or oppressed communities (Rosa Parks). Equivocally, we also forget the role privilege plays in all of this. If you’re white, it’s like a DO pass GO, and DO collect $200 card drawn from the Monopoly deck...and in fact mommy packed an extra $200 in your lunch bag in case you wanted a snack during the day...or to feed the homeless, start your own non-binary non-profit for anti-domestic violence projects or simply save for a rainy day. For most, we all know where that allowance went...snacks and video games. For some, it went to white collar drugs, and thus the start of the opioid crisis saw its first beginnings, a white privilege that isn’t exactly one to write home about, unless of course you’re in rehab. White privilege was usually also a get out of jail free card. The latter two examples were generalizations about white privilege and prominent examples of why there is such hostility towards white individuals who’s privilege gets flaunted right in the mainstream media. How is it that we manage to catch so many white males alive after such heinous crimes (bombings and mass shootings) and yet with black males, as evidenced by the media, conversely end up dead for much less dangerous or harmful crimes? How did I know the bomber/shooter was white? The headline says he was captured alive.
In reality, your privilege may have blinded you from the aforementioned situations, but just realize, privileges can be choices in as much as you choose how to either use them or don’t use them for good or for bad, for better or for worse. Privilege, like the human species, comes in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. It’s not racist, though it often gets that rap. It is many things—cyclical, subjective, and unquestionably unquantifiable. One day your privilege is in, the next day it is out. Just like that time you went from a rich, white, Ivy League bound male...to a washed up, crack addicted outcast with no friends and parents who have disowned you and your new trailer park home. How’s that for the riches to rags story of the dark side of white privilege? It’s not always all it’s cracked up to be. White privilege comes at a cost and this cost is not something the everyday person gets to see. It’s years and years in the making and usually requires a discipline that can only be taught by sending your kids off to training camps a.k.a prep schools to make sure they are nice mannered, even tempered, and angry enough to want to defy gravity just to get out of their parents reach.
Pride on the other hand can’t be taken away or given so easily. It is steadfast and as strong as the will of its possessor. It can be challenged and tried, but it always remains true, so long as the possessor seems it so. Own it like the battlefield it should never see, because fighting with pride usually doesn’t end up going well. It is not something to be lauded in front of others or worn on your sleeve. Pride comes from the inside out and can manifest itself on the outside in many ways. If done properly, it manifests itself in positive ways that contribute to society as opposed to denigrate the fabric of life from which it came.
Whether you take pride in your privilege, or are privileged to have pride, be hyper aware of your surroundings, your use or abuse of them, and how you teach them, use them, or showcase them in front of others. Public perception is subjective and usually biased so navigate carefully so as not to shake the boat or muddy the waters. If you are however using them as a tool of protest, realize that inherently they are not weapons of violence or hate. They are not weapons at all and one should never try to weapon use of them, because war is never the answer.