Sunday, August 26, 2012

Let's talk about privilege (baby, let's talk about you and me)

We're all assholes.

I was on the last leg of a road trip Friday, passing through El Paso on my way home to Austin. Speeding along the highway, I looked across the Rio Grande and into Mexico. It's nothing but a river that draws the line between these two countries, but that river's arbitrary contours divide wealth from poverty, safety from violence. It's just a river, but there's no question on which side you'd rather exist.

Isn't that dumb?

I'm baffled by how much things over which we have no control shape our lives. Race, gender, national origin-- these characteristics are all determined by the roll of some metaphysical die before birth, and yet drastically affect our life experience. For me, being white meant the border patrol agents in Arizona didn't harass me. However, being a woman meant my heartbeat quickened when I walked past a group of men in an isolated part of Seattle.

We're all assholes because we each possess certain unearned privileges that others don't, and probably don't reckon with that thought enough. I highly recommend reading "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" by Peggy McIntosh and "The Male Privilege Checklist" by Barry Deutsch, if you haven't.

If despair sets in, give a listen to the most beautiful song I've ever heard: "Two Doves" by Dirty Projectors. Or email me and let's figure this out.


Caitlin Boehne
Austin, Texas

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