“The Subtle Manifestations of Privilege” from Frank Guzman

In Assistantship, Audience Development, Frank Guzman on July 24, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Privilege often goes unnoticed when you are not looking for it. In my own life, small privileges often fly under the radar whilst my mind is occupied with the analysis of privilege, or lack thereof, in the lives of others. Parking at the top of a hill, while not the ideal spot, is a privilege for a relatively able-bodied individual. It is a privilege for me. Staring out of the office window and sympathizing with the individual dressed as a giant Pita sandwich is a privilege held by my coworkers and I. Before the FAIR forums, I had already taken a metaphorical microscope to my life to examine ways in which I held privilege because of who I am, because of my background. I am an American citizen. I am an able-bodied individual, except for a weak knee and flat feet. I am a student at Stanford University. My family, while not rich, has never starved. I am male. I enjoy the privilege of being a straight man in a heteronormative society. I know all this and more.

What the FAIR forum has done is establish a weekly reminder of what I have and what is missing. My assistantship, this real world setting, is boosted by the privilege of discussing the issues addressed by the FAIR program. It is easy to forget about privilege. It often turns into background noise. Struggle and a lack of something are much harder to ignore. When you have just eaten you do not tend to think about the relative ease with which you often obtain your food. It is when your empty stomach howls at you for sustenance that you think about your food and why, where, when, how it gets to you. In conversation, I find myself watching my words lest verbal evidence of my privilege leak out. That is the wrong approach. Acknowledgement of privilege is not the same as pretending it is not there. What do I do with my privilege? What do I do about the areas of my life where I do not hold privilege? I don’t know. That is what I am still struggling to find out. But I struggle along in good company.


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