What is privilege? According to the Oxford dictionary privilege is defined as ‘a special right or advantage that a particular person or group of people has’. So why when we think of privilege, there is only one group that comes into mind? Maybe because they experience it more and those who experience privilege more are typically unaware and it is therefore deemed as the ‘norm’. With that being said, privilege has a different effect on each group, with some groups experiencing it more than others. There are various groups, this can be gender, race, age, socio economic status and many others. We may fall into multiple groups.
So, I believe we need to look deeper within ourselves and think what is a special right or advantage that has happened or does happen to us? Maybe it occurs so often that we do not view it as a privilege. It could be something so small such as waking up each morning or having the ability to hear or see.
In this blog post I will be discussing my personal experience of privilege and how I was able to steward this.
My mum saved up a sum of money for my older sibling and I in preparation for us to go off to university. As you may know when it comes to university it can be quite expensive. This can be in terms of paying for furniture, supplies, rent and travel whilst being in university and so on. Of course, there are maintenance and other loans students are able to borrow however, this depends on your parents/guardians’ salary. Which I believe is unfair because they also have responsibilities of their own and no matter their income, they may not be able or willing to finance their child for their 3-5 years at university. Depending on parent/guardians’ salary, some students can unfortunately receive little to no student loan. Which could then leave them in a position of fear/anxiety of not knowing what to do next. Yes, they could get a full-time job, however, there are also demanding requirements of university, like the multiple deadlines, so doing this may be unfeasible.
In my situation where my privilege came into use was the summer before I was due to start university. My rent was due weeks before my maintenance loan instalment was due. Here, I was able to use my privilege to pay my rent before receiving my maintenance loan without having the fear or worry of not being able to. I had peers and friends who were unable to pay their rent because of this or had to find the money elsewhere, such as asking family members or taking out loans. Many of my friends experienced anxiety and stress during this time. In this situation I was fortunate enough to steward my privilege by offering my friends financial help.
To conclude this post, I believe we should focus on being more aware of the possible privileges we may encounter whether big or small. I believe we should avoid comparing ourselves to other groups and work more towards thinking about how we can steward our privileges to help others and make them feel included.
What are your beliefs about privilege?
This blog post is written by Kira Ampofo, a new member of our team at Belonging Pioneers. Kira joined us through the KickStart Scheme and as you can see is already making a difference here.