Privileges are the benefits and advantages you have over someone else because of your gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, health, level of education, physical ability, and/or socioeconomic level. It’s important to be aware of the benefits and advantages you have in order to be able to help those who do not readily have the same available to them. And having a better understanding of privilege can help you use that privilege to dismantle unfair systems that cost people their lives.
Examples of privilege
There are myriad ways that privilege can show itself. These examples aren’t exhaustive, by any means, but they’re worth considering.
- You have a much higher salary because of your race.
- Most positive advertisements are geared towards you.
- You feel protected by police.
- Your gender represents the only or the majority of executive positions at work.
- People don’t blame your mood because of your gender.
- Your appearance (clothing, etc.) doesn’t set a precedent for how you’re treated.
- Everywhere you go is accessible.
- You don’t notice if there’s closed captioning available.
- Employers will not question if you can physically perform a job.
- Your religion is not demonized in the news or mainstream culture.
- You don’t have to request time off for your religious holiday because it’s already on a calendar or acknowledged widely.
- People will recognize your religion without having to ask more information about it.
G/O Media may get a commission
- You can openly show affection to your partner in public without worry.
- The media portrays more couples similar to yours.
- You’re not rejected by family or friends based on who you love.
- Your doctor believes your symptoms the first time.
- You have access to adequate medical care including healthcare and fully staffed and stocked hospitals.
- You are unafraid to see a doctor.
- If you want it, you can buy it.
- You have quick access to healthy food options.
- You can afford to pay your rent/mortgage, utilities, car payment, etc.
- You have a career versus multiple jobs.
- You can go to college without leaving with a ton of debt.
How you can do better with your privilege
Recognition and acknowledgement of what your privileges are affords you the opportunity to stand up on behalf of those who don’t share those privileges. You can:
1. Learn how others are impacted by the privileges you have.
2. Find opportunities to speak up and act for those who are underprivileged. This can be calling out bad jokes in social circles, donating to reputable causes, or speaking up about the lack of diversity on the work place—to name a few.
3. Be cognizant when speaking over or centering yourself in conversations with people less privileged than you.
This is just scraping the surface of how you can recognize your own privilege and make an active effort to help others who, unfortunately, are not afforded the same.