Thursday, May 8, 2014

Yes, I'm Privileged

Many of you may have seen it.  A young white Jewish student, Tal, wrote a piece for Time about why he's tired of being told he's privileged. Here's something you might not have seen yet: A black graduate student who goes by @dexdigi beautifully pointed out the tired old fallacies that Tal was spouting as if he'd come up with them for the first time. 

Now, here's my take.

Like Tal, I am a white Jewish man from a working-class background who went to an elite university (in my case, decades ago). Like Tal, I give a lot of credit to my parents for their struggle to make sure I got the opportunities I deserved, and to my grandparents, who struggled with a new language and culture.

But unlike Tal, apparently (and definitely unlike some of the commenters on this thread), I realize that while I was disadvantaged by class and antisemitism, I never had anyone think I was a janitor instead of a professor simply because of the color of my skin. 

I never had to worry that someone I thought of as a friend would rape me simply because of my sex, or attack me violently because I said I was one gender and my birth certificate said I was another. 

I didn't have to be concerned that doors would literally be shut to me because there were no wheelchair ramps leading up to them, or that people would see signs of a disease like MD or CP and assume I was stupid or insane.
I have 99 problems but lack of privilege isn't one of them.

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