Privilege is a word that has been turned into a hot button topic. As soon as some folks hear it...they get defensive and shut down. They are no longer listening or, better yet, FEELING the impact of the conversation...they are planning what they are going to say next. And, we should all know that moment you stop listening, when it isn't a contentious discussion, you effectively become THE ASSHOLE.
On a particularly hot day, I noticed a young woman walking across a bridge with an all black Chick-Fil-A uniform on and a visor. That heat was beaming on her. I pulled over and asked her if she'd like a ride. Grateful, she hopped in and I took her to her home. On the ride there, we made polite conversation and she shared with me that she'd went away to college, got pregnant, returned home and had to move out when her mother passed and her sister got married. So...as a young single mother, she had a lot of choices to make. She has a friend who lives in the same apartment complex who doesn't work and looks after the kids of about 5 people she knows. No where near a daycare situation, but a safe place for the children to be when their parents were at work. Everyone basically gives the woman what they can when they can. COMMUNITY. I drove into the complex and my passenger thanked me. I asked her when she had to go back to work and she said in three hours to her second job. If she couldn't find a ride from her neighbor who she could give $5 to for a ride (sometimes he wasn't home) she'd have to leave the house in two hours so she could walk there.
I drove home feeling some kinda way.
My husband has the most supportive parents in the entire world. When he was growing up, had he said he wanted to be an astronaut, I have no doubt they would have sent him to space camp, driven back and forth from Cape Canaveral and gotten him involved in anything they heard of in order to make that happen. They drove him back and forth to college with the truck filled with dorm room and later, apartment furnishings. When he graduated, they drove back and forth multiple times to help move him into his new apartments. They packed and unpacked. Got him settled in right nice. His mother sent care packages (she has all his life), they talked regularly and passed along sage advice to their child when he was at a crossroad for whatever reason. They never attempted to change his mind or his path. They supported him and loved him throughout life and still do. SUPPORT.
I was talking to a friend's mother about how poor they were when they were growing up. She went on and on about how her mother had to save up for potatoes with the eyes to plant come planing time. She spoke of how her mother would harvest and dry seeds from the vegetables she grew every season so that she had seeds for next planting season. The process was a long and tedious one and, it took a lot of patience and planning to get right every.single.year. The kids were in charge of tilling the soil, they had to help plant, water with buckets, and pick the greens and veggies. This took a couple of hours worth of attention daily. They also had to get the eggs the chickens hatched, milk the cow, catch and clean fish during the Lenten season so they had fish for Friday dinner. The fish would be fried and all the neighbors would come over with fish to fry and extra veggies from their week's harvest or some baked good. LIFE SKILLS.
I, like many women my age, have LOTS of shoes. I don't like walking around in my bare feet even in the house. When I get out of the shower or bath, I dry my feet first and slide them into my slippers. My bathroom floors are clean, mind you, I was simply raised to always wear shoes. I hate to not wear shoes even to the beach where walking in shoes makes it harder to do. LOL! It just seems wrong to me not not wear shoes. And I don't wear many closed shoes without socks. I don't like my feet to sweat. I hate that (EARMUFFS) moist feeling between my toes. Just...ew. I have weird issues with socks. Can't stand the seam to be anywhere other than on top of my toes and, if I feel them...I can't wear them so, even if they are brand new...if I feel the line, they must be thrown away. I never think about donating them because I think to myself that socks are REALLY personal articles of clothing and then...I read that homeless people need socks more than anything because nobody ever donates socks. And...they often go without shoes that are in good shape because good walking shoes very rarely get donated. Folks mostly donate walking shoes they've walked in. A lot. But a blessing is a blessing right? Old shoes or no shoes? BLESSED.
Growing up, I went through a period of time where I didn't have the protection of my father in my home. He'd beat the shit out of my mother, yet again, and, once he'd been released from his overnight stay in jail, my mother had picked us up and taken us to stay with a relative. The relative lived with a sick fuck who subtly tried to molest me not knowing that I was already hip to that game and had decided it would never be something that happened to me again. I reminded him that my father would most likely kill his azz if he touched me and I told my father. Oh...and I let him know that I'd tell my daddy the SECOND I got him on the phone. I knew my father loved me. PROTECTED. I knew he'd fuck someone up for messing with me. And he'd enjoy doing it and probably get off. Small town justice. I've never been raped and many women who have been, were never molested growing up.
Someone I love can't afford to pay for their healthcare insurance so they had to go to one of the few free clinics in their area for medical attention. They left the clinic before being seen because the clinic was closing soon and there were still 45 people ahead of them. The person missed a day of work to go to the clinic. If they don't work, they don't get paid so that's a very real and direct reaction to their action that hit them when their next check came. They work for $8 an hour. They caught a bus for $2 to get back home and still had to walk for about 20 minutes from the bus stop.
The young lady I gave a ride to was privileged because she was blessed enough to become a mother. She did not have the privilege of always having transportation.
I have always been privileged enough to have a car but not privileged in that I became a mother.
My husband has always been privileged to have unconditional parental love and support but not privileged in becoming a parent who'd do the same.
My friend's mother's family was poor but privileged to be landowners in a community of people who looked like and understood them.
I am privileged in that I've never gone without any type of clothing or shoes that I needed.
I was abused as a child but I was also privileged enough to know my father loved and protected me from others.
Health insurance has never been a question for me. I am privileged.
In areas I know I'm privileged, I refuse to be ridiculous enough to think that others have the same opportunities and/or experiences. I understand that life isn't the same for everyone. I understand that, a lot of times, the choices or LACK OF choices of our direct ancestors, still matters a lot in who we are and will become.
I understand this and recognize this because I'm not an asshole.
Recognizing the areas you are PRIVILEGED is how you learn to have EMPATHY.
Even for the most narcissistic of all.