I’ve been grappling with my privilege a lot lately. I find that in nearly all my circles I have a leg up without having really done anything. I am a white (though I am well aware of the many sacrifices my Mexican grandfather endured to give my mom her future), male, straight, educated, Protestant (broadly defined). I live in the most powerful country in the world. In my chosen career I am one of the few (roughly one in four) who landed a tenure track gig (at a place I like, to boot!). All of these give me immense advantages to others and I cannot say without significant qualifications (sometimes at all) that I am responsible for any of them.
At the same time I am very sympathetic to those who are marginalized and disenfranchised. I spent four years thinking hard about the issues that keep people from flourishing. Often, those who are privileged are active participants in a system that keeps people marginalized, and in the worst cases poor and hungry. I hate the injustice of it all and I want to see it change.
And yet, because I too participate in the system, I am complicit. But I sure don’t know how I ought to respond. Ostensibly I am in a position that can help change an unjust system. But I feel so powerless against the marginalizing forces that I participate in. I often try to listen and amplify voices from the margins. Sometimes I chime in. Other than that I am mostly a passive (and sometimes active) participant.
What about you? How do you respond to structural inequality? How do you respond to your privilege or lack thereof? What power do you and I have?