A particular distinction I often wish got made in discussions of privilege (and those who have it, and those who don’t) is the difference between privileges which, in a fair and just world, everybody ought to have, vs the privileges that nobody ought to have.

Many things in the world qualify as privilege.  Being able to marry the person you love is a privilege.  Feeling safe in your own neighborhood is a privilege.  Having the space and security to put down a task, a fight, a social justice issue, and walk away for a while and rest, is a privilege.

And also: being able to hurt somebody else and get away with it is a privilege.  Knowing that others are likely to take your side in an argument, whether you’re actually right or not, is a privilege.  The ability to horde or destroy common resources like water and rainforests is a privilege.

Exercising an everybody-ought-to privilege isn’t wrong.  Using it in such a way that it interferes with another person or people having access to everybody-ought-to privileges is.

Having access to nobody-ought-to privilege is a flaw of the system, not the individual who has access to those privileges.  Using a nobody-ought-to privilege is a fault of the person.

Refusing to use your everybody-ought-to privileges “until everybody has them”, or demonizing their existence, so rarely helps anybody.  Straight people refusing to get married didn’t contribute too terribly much to gay marriage; you don’t make somebody else’s neighborhood safer by deliberately making your own more dangerous.  Insisting on never putting down or walking away from a social justice fight because other people can’t isn’t a recipe for progress, it’s a recipe for burnout.

There’s a difference between helping yourself and hurting other people.  We should talk more about finding ways to do one and not the other.

This is an excellent point.


#yes this #our roads may be golden or broken or lost #discourse cw?

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