Responsibility and Equity
When some people enjoy privilege and others do not, it is easy to assume that those with power are acting consciously and deliberately to oppress or take advantage of others. But sometimes those with privilege simply don’t see it.
McIntosh talks about her own growing realization that as a White woman, she had “skin privilege and had been conditioned into oblivion about its existence.”
Watch the following short video of Peggy McIntosh:
At the same time, there are certain kinds of privilege that cannot be shed at will. For example, a heterosexual person living in a heterosexual society has power and privilege that is not available to homosexual, bisexual and transgender people. This is true regardless of whether the heterosexual person seeks or rejects this type of privilege and power.
It is also important to remember that no one has power all the time or in every situation, just as no one is absolutely without power all the time. The gay person who feels disempowered at work may feel accepted and affirmed while organizing a Pride Parade.
While we should not be “blamed” for every advantage we enjoy, we should be held accountable. We are always responsible for how we use our power and privilege. The influence of privilege and power is something that we must be constantly looking for and working to eliminate in order to promote equity.