What My Mama Used to Tell Me
With a Capital "P"
As I grew up, and got a bit more worldly, I realized my mother’s message was that I didn’t have the same Privilege as some other people.
Privilege. With a capital “P”.
That word has a lot of weight behind it, and implications that run deep through the veins of our society. Some people don’t think it exists, but I’m a believer. Privilege is the difference between getting that job interview or not. It’s the difference between living in a good school district or not. It’s the difference between going home without a scratch or being returned in a body bag. I watch the news, I look at the world around me, and I see the subtle and blatant ways Privilege shapes our culture. At a young age, I had to realize that I was a woman in a man’s world, and a brown dot in a sea of white. Don’t get me wrong, I might have a degree of Privilege. Some people have more than two strikes, more than three, whether it is because of their gender, race, sexual orientation, economic standing, physical or mental disability, and more. I always went to good schools, and I’m fortunate enough to be getting a higher education. I don’t claim to own all the struggle in the world, but I am not ignorant of how I may be viewed by others.
I Was Still Scared
My mother drilled it into my head that despite my disadvantages, I could find success. She wanted me to fight tooth and nail for it.. She tried her best to give it to me straight, but also assure me that there was nothing wrong with me, that I could love myself even if other people didn’t. Still, her message felt sad to me. I felt like I couldn’t just be a kid, I couldn't just live my life. I felt like I had this gigantic weight on my shoulder, like Atlas or that guy who’s always pushing a boulder up a hill. At times, I felt like the color of my skin was a cage, and that my gender was like a scarlet letter tattooed on my forehead. Growing up, I didn’t always like being black, and I was scared of becoming a woman because of the way society disenfranchised people like me.
But I Learned To Love My Brown
I learned how to love my boobs and my thick thighs. Today, I wouldn’t trade my body for anyone else’s, and I don’t want any other life but my own. I am proud of the black woman my mother shaped me to be. I am stronger because of my struggle, and I can appreciate the struggles of others. I see other people’s pain, and I hurt with them because I know I could easily be in their shoes. I can see some of the flaws of humanity, and I try in my own way to rise above them.
I Embrace Who I Am
The truth is, I’m not jealous of anyone’s Privilege anymore. That isn’t to say I don’t think society needs to get better. We have a lot of work to do to make the world a better and more equal place, but I am not envious of the pedestals I see some people stand on. Privilege can be a tool, but it can also become a crutch. It can become a cocoon that keeps people from seeing the world as it truly is. It can make you weak. Privilege can turn you into the sort of person who needs to send out a storm of tweets at four a.m. because someone said something mean about you.
I’m not saying everyone with Privilege is bad, and I’m not trying to attack a certain group of people. But if you are reading this, and you feel angry and defensive, then ask yourself why.
And fix it.