The Layers and Nuance of Privlege

I don’t know when I first became aware of my privilege. Maybe it was my first trip to a country of vastly different economic circumstance than my own. Maybe it was the first time I read To Kill a Mockingbird and was confronted by systemic racism. Maybe it was IMG_8331when I started teaching and saw the vast discrepancies between kids whose parents had time and energy at night to read and sit beside them at the homework table. Maybe it was the first time I read about the reality of our prison system and the way we incarcerate.

Privilege has certainly become a loaded word in the recent years. It’s rare to hear someone say, it’s a privilege to visit. I usually hear it in the context of check your privilege or white privilege.

When we started attending our neighborhood school this year, I was hit with our privilege. I saw how incredibly prepared Bea was for kindergarten – from reading together to access to books and art supplies to the fact that we have multiple memberships to museums around our city. She has the background knowledge and supports to excel.

And, while I see her incredible circumstantial privilege, I also feel incredibly grateful that this is our educational experience. Not only is Bea learning academically, she’s learning about cultures and worldviews that we could not teach at home. She’s enthralled with her Muslim friends and empathetic toward kids who are tired from late bedtimes. She asks why some kids need extra help and why others can’t speak English.

I’m shifting my view of privilege again. Yes, we are a family of privilege. There is no doubt about that. But we are also a family who feels privileged to know and interact with our neighbors and classmates. I’m remembering that this word is layered and nuanced and I need to reintroduce the gratefulness of privilege into our outlook.

What feelings do you get when you hear the word privilege? How does your privilege make you grateful? How does it help you see others in a more gentle way?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “privilege.”

15 thoughts on “The Layers and Nuance of Privlege

  1. Your daughter is blessed to have you as mom. I think that as we step outside of our comfort zone, we get a new understanding of privilege–and also new perspectives. I’m your #FMF neighbor. Have a wonderful weekend!

  2. Well-said, Annie.

    Privilege can take so many forms…one of the times I felt most privileged was sitting in a sewage dith, having found cover behind a concrete culvert in a country I would prefer not to name, and one I’m sure you’d prefer not to visit.

    The locals were highly agitated, but all their bullets could do was chip concrete from the top of the thing, and their RPGs wooshed over. We could keep them at a distance with aimed fire, and until they brought up an indirect-fire weapon (like a mortar) we could be on our way when darkness fell.

    The feeling of safety and privilege was just so strong! For those moments, chest-deep in the filthy water, it was like a suite at a Hilton.

    Things like that stay with you, and beget both gratitude and compassion. So many blokes under similar circumstances would have simply been run down and killed (not nicely). We had the grace of shelter.

    https://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2018/02/your-dying-spouse-443-barbara-on.html

  3. Yes, economic privilege is where we go first. The world has sucked us up and plopped us right in the middle of comparing. But there is so much more to being privileged. Glad to read your post from #fmf.

  4. I can’t help but think of Jesus words “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Kids can teach us so much about listening to and learning from those that are different then us. Privilege really has become a loaded word which is why I believe it’s important to check my own privilege. You are teaching your children well my friend. I’m in the 38 spot this week.

  5. I always find that working with kids changes how I see the world. It is a hard place to live these days, but having kids remind of simple things is so integral. At a young age, they know there is a difference between them and others but all they are interested in is becoming friends and doing things together. its hard when our judgements and the rest of the life choices we’ve made often get in the way. I know life’s not so simple in the older years, but oh if we could just have these less jaded eyes. thank you for sharing your reflection Annie
    Janel

  6. Sorry to be so late to the party, Annie! I was sick over the weekend, and I’m still catching up. 🙂

    Your post resonates with me. There are definitely things that I take for granted, but I am seeing more and more the privileges God has given and also my call to share what God’s given. Expanding beyond normal “privilege” thoughts, I feel privileged that God chose to give us our two boys. Motherhood is a privilege and a gift in my eyes.

    1. Oh, I hope you’re feeling better! We’ve been hit by something here, too… No fun. Thinking about gratitude and privilege and those things that, even on the hardest days, I’m so thankful for.

  7. Privilege indeed can be loaded with nuances. Yet, it holds power-our power-which is why we must acknowledge it and check it. It is meant to be shared and that’s where the blessing comes in. It’s a privilege to share our privilege.

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