Hidden Privilege

Recognizing privileges, being grateful for them is crucial

Hidden Privilege

Amy Collins, Staff Writer

Privilege is defined as having special rights, advantages or immunities. When I think of privilege, I think of someone who has everything they could possibly want. Someone that drives a fancy car, wears designer brands, lives in a mansion and has money to buy whatever they want. However, privilege is a lot more complicated than what car you drive or what clothes you wear.  

Privilege lies beyond the materialistic side of society and is rooted in the identity and culture of a person. Factors such as sex, gender identity, race, age, language, education and income are what inherently determine the privilege of an individual.

Unlike inequalities, our privilege tends to be hidden as we often forget how well off in life we are. Some people who have privileges don’t recognize them because they are surrounded by people who have similar privileges to them and have not experienced what it is like to be less privileged in life. 

I can admit and acknowledge how privileged I am. I live in a nice house, get a good education, don’t have to worry about my family’s financial income and live in a very safe community. Most of the privileges I have exist because of the family I was born into, as privilege is something that builds upon generations and runs within a family.

It is important to recognize the privileges you have and how they affect your life. It is easy to forget how well off you are when you compare yourselves to your friends who seem like they have it all. 

The truth is not having to worry about whether you’re going to have enough money to afford your next meal, wonder where you are going to sleep or if you are going to get a good education are all privileges. Those are all things that many of us in Johnson County don’t have to worry about but are prominent issues within our society that revolve around inequalities. 

According to a study done by USDA, 38 million people in the U.S. struggle with having enough food to eat, with food insecurity higher in Black, Latino and mixed-raced communities. 

In addition to food insecurity, income is a factor affected by privilege. The gender wage gap has remained relatively steady in the past 15 years, with females having an annual wage that is 84% of their male counterparts with the same job.

In addition to the gender wage gap, race also affects income, with Hispanic male workers making 91 cents for every dollar earned by white men and Black male workers making only 87 cents for every dollar earned by white men. 

Privilege has been painted as something that’s negative, and when combined with the human tendency of being unable to receive criticism, it often causes people to get defensive when being called privileged. 

While privilege can sometimes be a tough thing to talk about and recognize, it’s extremely important to appreciate the privileges you have in your life. 

We must first acknowledge our own privileges in order to see others’ differences and strive to understand their point of view. Therefore, it is important to surround yourself with a diverse group of people so you are not blind to your privileges. 

Next time you are thinking about that expensive sports car you want or the new iPhone you must get, remember the privileges you have and be grateful for them.