musings, thoughts, and writings of Barbara W. Klaser


July 4, 2006

What is privilege?

The subject of privilege came up on a forum where I sometimes participate, and it seems a relevant topic for Independence Day, since we tend to think of the US as a relatively privileged nation. The discussion grew out of one person claiming to be oppressed (my word choice, used to boil the idea down), and another saying he was equally oppressed, with a resulting one-upmanship of who was worse off or better off, at one point involving the term privileged. Out of that grew a separate discussion on what it means to be privileged in this world. Here’s what I shared on the subject, with some edits:

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To me being privileged means having more than one’s basic needs met, and there are degrees of privilege, and it is relative, and basically meaningless. I’m more privileged than some people I know, and less privileged than some I know. But all I can really say about that is what I see on the surface.

It’s tragic that so few people in the world have adequate food, water, sanitation, shelter, clothing, necessary transportation, education, rest, safety, security, and health care, even some people in the US. Those should be basic, subsistence level expectations, especially considering how far we’ve come technologically in this world. Unfortunately those advances seem to be reserved for the wealthiest people in the wealthiest countries, for those living under certain forms of government and economics. Basic civil and human rights should also be considered subsistence level—everyone should have them. Not everyone does, even in the most economically “privileged” countries. We can’t even agree on what civil and human rights people should have.

But I also think many people in the world have a skewed notion of what it is to live under what they consider privilege (i.e. better apparent economic or social conditions than theirs). It looks easier. In many ways it is. It’s no guarantee one will be happy. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 9:40 am PST, 07/04/06

November 2, 2005

Rosa Parks legacy

Rosa Parks represents what an awesome force for change even one person can be, if they have the courage. If one woman can inspire so much, imagine what we can do together. Her life might have been easier if she’d given up her seat, given in to the status quo, but she wouldn’t have been truly free. The easy way, the habitual way, “the way it’s always been done” sometimes must be broken through.

While thousands honor Rosa Parks today, BBC has posted reader tributes.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 12:17 pm PST, 11/02/05


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