by Anika Bruce, age 15
Growing up, it never occurred to me that I might have it easier than other people because of how I look or where I grew up. I live in a mostly white neighborhood, in a family that had more money than most other kids in this town, I never thought about it. My childhood felt no different than anyone else’s.
It wasn’t until high school that I ran into the word privilege. I was 14 and becoming aware of politics thanks to social media, and the more I read, the more the word made sense. Black men were more likely to be harmed by police than white men. Muslim people were more likely to be randomly stopped in airports than Christian people. White people have inherent privilege.
As I now go into my senior year of high school, I have become much more aware of my own privilege. I am a white girl in an upper middle class family, growing up in a mostly poor town in America. In my current place in life, with education at the forefront, this gives me a significant amount of privilege. Looking at my high school career, I can note where my privilege comes into play:
- I’ve never had troubling affording school supplies.
- I’ve never gone to class on an empty stomach.
- I have a family structure that provides support so I can excel in my studies.
- My family can afford a yearbook, my family can afford to send me on school trips and to summer camps.
Born into my family, the education odds have always been in my favor.
High school is also a place for white privilege to show. I will never be dress-coded for my natural hair. I will never have to deal with classmates sharing racist remarks about me when they think I can’t hear. Teachers will look at me and may assume I am above another student just because of the color of my skin. White privilege will play a role in my life, whether it be education or after.
I recognize this. I have to. If white people, rich people, cis people, straight people, and men don’t recognize their privilege, then they are ignoring reality and thereby fueling oppression.
To say that privilege doesn’t exist is ignorant, and in a society where ignorance is prevalent, we need to accept our reality and fight to change it.
I have privilege. I know this. I accept this. And I will use it to change our reality for the better, for everyone.