Does privilege negate hard work?

Privilege is a complex thing.

I think the reason that so many people have a hard time accepting their privilege is because they feel like it negates their hard work. They’re not comfortable with the realisation that if it wasn’t for certain things about them, they would have experienced life very differently. More often than not having more hurdles to overcome.

Privilege comes in many forms: financial, gender, race, sexuality and religion for a start but there is so much more.

And so if you come under the categories of Middle class, Male, White, Straight and Christian there is evidence to show that you face less barriers. Furthermore, the categories you fit into don’t disadvantage you, for the most part.

It can be challenging for people that feel like they have worked hard to be told that they’re privileged. They’re often the ones that believe in meritocracy and feel like anyone who can’t achieve the same as them must not be working hard enough.

Ironically, it’s often that everyone else has had to work harder.

I think the easiest way to understand this whole thing of privilege is to meet more people that are not like you. That way you actually get to see the what it’s like for other people.

Whether that is not continuing education because they can’t afford it, worrying that their natural hair will be a barrier to employment or even constantly having negative assumptions thrown at them because of their religions beliefs.

The point of all this is not for you to feel bad, the point is to gain understanding and awareness.

Your privilege doesn’t negate your hard work but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Taking advantage of kindness

So lets say you’re someone who has a habit of running late. And this has happened quite a few times with Friend A who is always super understanding about it.

Perhaps the first time you were late you were super apologetic and felt bad but you were also glad your friend was understanding and didn’t get mad about it.

For some people, when they keep getting a kind response as a reaction to their mistakes they’ll end up being less and less apologetic.

Afterall, what’s the point in preparing for the worst case scenario when the past responses have taught you that things will turn out fine.

This is how people end up taking advantage of kindness.

I used the example of being late but this can apply to any scenario where your actions directly effect someone else.

The point is that when you’re making mistakes or when you’re in the wrong you shouldn’t expect for others to just be cool with it. In fact, in some ways it’s actually healthy to accept one of the worst potential outcomes as it’ll keep you on your toes and your apology is much more likely to be genuine.

Granted, the best option will always be to do better but mistakes will always happen and that’s okay.