The Cost Of Privilege

What is the cost of privilege? How is it paid for? Who pays? How much do you think it should cost for the right to be treated better than others for any given reason? Think about it. What does it cost the person operating under a false sense of entitlement? How high is the price for the person who has to perpetuate the lie?
    Fellas, my men of color, society tells you that, even if you hold the highest position in the land, you are still subject to disrespect. You still do not warrant the treatment of a king. No matter how well you carry yourselves, how educated you are, how well you provide for your family and loved ones, you are still somehow not worthy. You still fall short. Society has tried to steal your value yet knows you are still needed. My grandmother used to always say, “Above all else, Tae Tae, you must let a man be a man!” That is the one thing that this society has decided it will wrest from you at all cost!
    Ladies, my sistahs, society tells us that to be considered beautiful, our hair must look a certain way, our hips must not be too wide, we must not be too loud or outspoken. Laws from the highest courts in the land have sided with and set the tone for discrimination against us! Kinky, curly, coily equates to “unkempt” and thus, unacceptable. We are faced with the choice of embracing our natural selves vs feeding our families, which is really no choice at all. We are inundated with images in the media constantly reminding us all that we somehow missed the “beauty” mark, but still manage to be hypersexualized.
    We have to sit by and watch while our culture, our identity, our creations are stolen, rewrapped and regurgitated back into society as badly reproduced copies, all while being told that we are not enough; not smart enough, not beautiful enough, not human enough. We see it, live it every day! Our children are subjected to it at ages so tender, there should only be memories of love and happiness. Most of us find ourselves angry or saddened by the privilege of others on a very regular basis. If you are anything like me, it makes you mad as hell!
Ah, but walk with me if you will……
    What about the other tentacles of privilege that exist? How many of us take advantage of privilege every single day without even realizing it? Sure, maybe you have acknowledged that you are different in some ways, but how many times have you unwittingly taken part in societies ideas and found yourself on the receiving end of privilege? I think all of us have found ourselves there at one time or another.
    I was startled to realize that I have been on the receiving end of privilege more often than I had ever considered for a variety of reasons. Reasons that I took for granted, didn’t really think about because they were always a part of me. Things that I had no clue what it was like to not have because I’d always had them.  The realization was profound. Understanding what it feels like to not be treated equally in one area makes knowing that someone else was put in that very same position for you in another glaringly harsh. It is sobering, and for me, it is motivating.
    It is an uncomfortable truth that we live in societal confines that dictate who will be privileged and who will not be. We are all aware of the black/white aspect of privilege, but there are so many others that exist for so many different reasons. Have you considered the cost?
                                                                                           Shante’ Gardere aka The Poetess

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