As a diversity professional and a teacher, uncomfortable conversations are part of my job. Every day is a new opportunity to explore the words and topics that make people feel awkward, 去思考为什么不舒服会存在, and to lead the teams I’m working with toward more inclusive language and actions. We talk about racism, disability, unconscious bias, microaggressions, and exclusion. 我们谈论偏见，差异性和身份认同. 这是一项非常脆弱和情绪化的工作. 但我告诉你, privilege is the one word and topic that always elicits a strong allergic reaction.
对大多数人来说，特权是个令人讨厌的词. 它带有一种耻辱，让人感到羞耻和沉重. People who align themselves with privilege — who feel that they have it — often feel guilty and embarrassed of what they have. People who don’t align with privilege usually feel embarrassed too: ashamed of the advantages they did not have. 人们很容易相信世界上只有两个方面, but as someone who has led thousands of people through Privilege Walks, 我向你保证那不是真的.
Privilege is a complex topic because people often associate it with one race, 一种性别, or with affluence and because it is sometimes interpreted as carrying an accusation or a condemnation. 然而, in order to move beyond the resistance I see regularly associated with the notion of privilege and subsequently to leverage its benefits, 我们首先要做的是扩大它的范围.
特权并非白人所独有, 男人, 或者是富有的, 它在那些身份群体中也并非无处不在. 例如, 我们经常听到“白人特权”这个词,’ but are we considering the privilege of having two supportive parents? 经济上的安全? 日常生活中的人身安全? 的流动性? 在你们学校讲主要语言?
Privilege is reflected in many situations, many lifestyles, and many demographics. We all see the world through our own limited frame of 经验. Almost every one of us has some privilege that we can leverage to build a better culture, and almost every one of us has overcome some challenges as well. The more we are able to levelset the 概念 of privilege — and to be clear, not the 经验 特权，但 概念 of privilege — the more we are able to recognize and discuss it.
Privileges often have nothing to do with how hard you, personally, have worked. 在特权阶层, I sometimes get pushback from people who made their own way in the world and have worked hard for their own successes. I think it’s important to celebrate those accomplish男人ts, but I also urge people to remember that privilege is not necessarily a reflection of you so much as the perception and assumption to others about who you are and what you’re capable of.
Do you feel safe, valued, and welcome in every situation in your daily life? It’s important to recognize that not everyone has that equal privilege.
Privilege is not a mechanism by which to say you did not work hard. It simply means there weren’t additional obstacles for you to overcome on your way to success due to your identity, background, 历史, 或文化. Often, the 概念 of privilege feels accusatory, and so we become defensive and resistant. We are asked to acknowledge and examine our privilege without knowing what to do with that knowledge. 下一步是什么? 我该往哪里走?
Understanding privilege is a step toward empathy and helps to build a more inclusive culture. It helps us realize that there is so much more to people than the few personas they introduce to you. Each of us has a complete identity iceberg — part of us floats up high for public viewing, 但在表面之下隐藏着更多的东西.
在特权阶层, I have people focus on the future. If they discover high levels of privilege in our walk, I ask them to use those advantages to advocate for equity and inclusion across their organizations and communities. If they find they have overcome significant obstacles, I ask them to use that 经验 to inspire others to be empathetic leaders and culture drivers.
在多元化运动中, we are a firm focused on action and behavior change, 不仅仅是理解和意识. We know that recognizing privilege does not naturally lead to changed behavior. In other words, it’s not enough simply to recognize your privileges and challenges. 去让他们工作吧! 不管你的特权是丰富的还是稀少的, you can leverage the power of your 经验 to advocate for others. 你的声音对盟友关系至关重要.
There are two primary ways to pay your privileges forward: time and resources. 把你的时间花在做志愿者或辅导上. Accept more of those 20 minute (virtual) cups of coffee to give aspiring professionals actionable advice and a mo男人t of real networking connection. Diversify your outlay of resources by supporting culturally diverse businesses, 提供实习机会, and investing in startups headed by underrepresented founders. Pour into others, especially those who have not been afforded your privileges.
Leveraging your privilege and paying it forward encourages cross-cultural and cross-experiential empathy, providing authentic opportunities to see beyond the professional persona and connect with people on a more personal level. By doing so, we can destigmatize privilege and unlock its potential instead.
**This article was originally published on February 2, 2021 for 多样性的运动.