Illustrating Privilege for the Willfully Ignorant

A few months ago, I publishedย Why I Got Rid of All My Ostrich-Friends. In the article, I explained why I put as much distance as possible between myself and people who like to bury their heads in the sand.

One blogger read the post, and then commented that she often refrained from sharing her political opinions, because she didn’t want to offend others.

After encouraging her to share the opinions she felt were so controversial, she told me she did not believe that privilege was a legitimate issue, and that no race or ethnicity in the United States was at a disadvantage in comparison to others.

In our discussions, I reminded her that even when we set emotional biases regarding slavery aside, there is a section of society that has only been free and working and inheriting anything for about 200 years (ie African Americans). Meanwhile, almost all the others have been working, saving, and passing inheritance through their family line for thousands of years.

How does that not create an unequal starting place? And with segregation only ending in 1964, and the aftershocks still reverberating throughout society today, exactly where is this mystical equal playing field?

If you’re one of the many people in (and outside of) America, who somehow believes that we live, work, and play on an equal playing field, please watch the video below. If you don’t fall into this category, but know many willfully ignorant souls who do, please share and save them from themselves…

If the video fails to load, you can watch it here on Facebook.

AC Sign 2_0

Find Me On:


64 thoughts on “Illustrating Privilege for the Willfully Ignorant

  1. As a teacher in an infants school a few years ago, it was heartbreaking to see that right from the moment some children start school, aged 4 1/2, they have very little chance of success due to their parents’ background. They quickly fell behind the rest and, even at this early age, it was obvious that they would never catch up. These were white children, by the way, so it is not so much a matter of race as culture and social status. Inequality affects us all.

    1. I would say, fatimasaysell, that inequality may affect us all but it affects us differently. Law enforcement remains more critical of African Americans regardless of their social status (Henry Louis Gates Jr.). White males with a criminal record are still more likely to be hired over black males with a degree. We live in two different Americas–white and nonwhite.

    2. This is true, Fatima. Every society has its underprivileged group. In most countries, it’s the Brown and Blacks. But language, culture, poverty, and just being an immigrant, can sometimes set a lot of people back.

      In this case, the video was directed at Americans, and spoke to the position held by many African-Americans.

  2. I don’t know. The video is well-intentioned but I think it pretty much preaches to the choir and I really don’t see it undoing the racial hierarchy that has been established in this country for centuries by the hypocritical actions of its white founding fathers. I just don’t see why those who benefit the most from white privilege would have any interest in leveling “the playing field” for fear of being forced to the very bottom of the racial caste system that is currently occupied by African Americans. But I admit that I’m a pessimist, while Alexis is more of an optimist concerning the future of race relations in America.

    1. Hey Benjamin!

      I don’t think the video is preaching to the choir, because that implies everyone else is on board with acknowledging and accepting that privilege exists, and that’s certainly not the case.

      As someone who enjoyed a few perks from “Brown Privilege” in Jamaica, I still believe hard work should be rewarded fairly. As a lighter-skinned Jamaican, I was treated as an upper class citizen, because the remnants of a plantation economy that is overwhelmingly Black ultimately means that while many darker-skinned Blacks have outperformed the rest of us, wealth is still often in the hands of the Brown and White.

      The big difference is that in Jamaica, colour alone won’t take you places. I am optimistic, or at least hopeful, that one day America will get to that point too, where colour may influence a first impression, but isn’t enough to either hold you back, or take you where you need to go. Hard work is what will make up the rest.

      Thanks for watching and commenting!

  3. For some reason I can’t load the video, but some of those comments are depressing as hell. OF COURSE there is such a thing as privilege and OF COURSE certain groups are at a disadvantage from birth. This doesn’t mean that people from these groups can’t succeed. It doesn’t mean that if you’re white then you haven’t worked hard to get where you are in life. It just means that life can be hard for everyone, but for some people it’s automatically harder -and for some people it’s so much easier. I don’t understand why people get so offended by these ideas. Let’s focus on how to level the playing field instead.

    1. I wonder why it won’t load for you! Did you try clicking that link I provided? Sometimes videos don’t load on WordPress from Facebook. Not sure why.

      You are right though. Privilege alone won’t take you everywhere you want to go. There is some hard work involved, but it doesn’t negate that there was some privilege. And it doesn’t automatically mean that everyone else can get there by hard work alone.

      For instance, I was privileged enough to have my parents pay for every penny of my college education. The money wasn’t exactly great, and I did work here and there, but I didn’t HAVE to. I could survive on what I was given.

      I graduated debt free. BUT, I honoured their sacrifice by ensuring I aced the heck out of college. I graduated with first class honours, top of my major. THAT part wasn’t privilege. I was studying when everyone else was partying, and mostly kept to myself.

      But I would never get up on my high horse and pretend like not having student loans to pay back isn’t a grand privilege to have. Nor do I feel as though admitting that takes away from the fact that I busted my ass in college.

      1. It’s my crappy old kindle fire. It struggles with video/pictures/emoticons but I can’t give it up ๐Ÿ˜‚

        Wow, well done you! That’s awesome that you worked so hard and achieved so highly. I’m afraid I was one of the party people at university!

        I worked in recruitment for years and you could easily see the difference in candidates (especially for our grad programme) who had been to private school and came from wealthy backgrounds as opposed to those who came from state schools. It’s very difficult to compare candidates who have volunteered abroad, been the captain of their sailing club and organised a gourmet supper club to those who have worked in a shoe shop just to help their family make ends meet. Let alone the effects of cultural expectations, access to educational resources, family problems, dilapidated housing conditions, self belief…the list goes on. Then there’s the “like me” syndrome where people gravitate towards others who are similar to them – that means that in a company of middle class white men they’re far more likely to want to recruit other middle class white men. A lot of this stuff is subconscious and it’s very hard to mitigate against.

        There’s also arbitrary policies that hold people back, like the idea that on a panel show of six people, one can be a woman, one can be an ethnic minority and the rest should be white men – and that’s all the diversity boxes ticked. Ridiculous.

      2. Haha, I didn’t even know you could view WordPress blogs from Kindle. Mine is so old, it only reads books. I traded a TV I never watched for it.

        Thank you. I tend to be pretty focused and goal-oriented. I wouldn’t say I was one of the wealthy kids, but I did have quite a list of President of that and organiser of that, as well.

        I studied HRM as my major and we talked about recruiting bias, and the tendency for people to hire employees like themselves. That’s why I’ve tried to keep my team at the PR firm as diverse as possible, from feline to humans to Blacks to Asian and Jews and everything in-between (

        Diversity is so important in PR and marketing. So many companies get themselves into trouble trying to piggyback on diversity issues they know nothing about. Dove and Pepsi were just two who found themselves in hot water for that last year.

      3. Absolutely. I did my masters in HRM! I actually worked hard for that one ๐Ÿ˜Š. Yes, in my experience the more diversity you can get into a team, the better they perform. Plus it’s just more interesting to work with different people ๐Ÿ˜Š

      4. Haha, master’s degrees are expensive so I would hope so! And agreed, diversity keeps things interesting. My PR team are a reflection of my group of friends haha.

      5. Yeah, but I suspect it was a lot cheaper for me because I’m from the Uk – I know higher education elsewhere is crazy expensive (although undergraduate degrees here are now 10 times more than I paid for mine).

      6. Jamaica has the least expensive I’ve seen for the quality, so far. My entire 6 years of college including living expenses was less than 25k USD.

    1. Thanks for sharing this. Let me copy and paste it here for anyone curious as to what that quote was:

      Tradition has it that whenever a group of people has tasted the lovely fruits of wealth, security, and prestige, it begins to find it more comfortable to believe in the obvious lie and accept that it alone is entitled to privilege.

  4. The other deep reality in the United States has been policies to perpetuate inequality. These included red-lining certain neighborhoods to deny mortgages, hiring practices which until very recently(in the history of the U.S.) allowed open racial discrimination, denying equal education to all students and many more structural inequalities. Many people are ignorant of these and don’t recognize the “privilege” involved. Too often people just look at their own individual life and say “I don’t feel privileged.”

      1. Even that video, helpful as it is, doesn’t touch on systemic discrimination such as job applicants being rejected because of “black sounding names.” Great research on this is available and disturbing. Never mind meeting the person and then rejecting their hair.

      2. Ha, you’re right about that. In Jamaica we don’t really have ethnic names, so I found that interesting when I was working in payroll for Delta Airlines. We have names that I can immediately spot as Jamaican, but I couldn’t tell you with certainty what race the person is.

  5. Hi! I am not one to get into political, religious, or cultural debates either, but I agree with you. It just is what it is. There’s no denying certain groups are at a disadvantage. If that wasn’t the case, there wouldn’t be so many outreach programs, etc. I’m not going to go on a rant…just saying..

    1. Rant all you like here. It is important to keep the discussion going. People who either choose to ignore these things or blatantly deny that it exists seriously needs a reality check. I’m not sure what bubble they live in, but I bet the rent is high. Paid for partially with privilege too ๐Ÿ˜‚

      Thanks for dropping by!

      1. Haaaahaaaaaa Thanks for listening to my rant. Youโ€™re right, these sensitive issues do need to be discussed. The more theyโ€™re discussed or stories are shared, maybe weโ€™ll see some changes ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š

      2. I agree. The stories do need to be shared and understood. We will never build bridges between the different groups in America if we don’t begin to understand where ALL sides are coming from.

Share a comment with Alex!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.