The Consequences I Face
Seeking Change Where It Is Desperately Needed
As I rise out of the heavy stupor I have lived under ever since I was assaulted, I have been having conversations with different people about what happened. One word keeps standing out to me during these thoughtful exchanges.
That word is privilege.
I often first turn to a dictionary when a word stubbornly presents itself in my conscious mind, even if I may already have some idea of what it conveys. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word privilege is defined as a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor.
In the case of my recent incident, someone who presents as a white male often has the privilege of expressing anger and rage within American society. Flipping off a bunch of other white men while riding on horseback or beating someone up (because they want to) would be examples of this. To a certain degree, we live in a society that cultivates, expects, and condones this. (One glaring illustration is the violent storming of the US Capitol building in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021, by a group of white, mostly male, individuals.)
Alternately, I would never flip off a group of white men under any circumstance because I know that the repercussions for a queer and Brown person like me would be dire. If, for a more extreme example, a Black male expresses anger and rage, it is perceived differently than anyone else in society who does so. The consequences Black males have faced in America from racism and discrimination have often been quite grave. They do not have that privilege.
I understand that any conclusion having to do with race and privilege is a slippery slope. Most situations are unique and nuanced and deserve more than just a blanket statement to define them. But in the case of my assault, white privilege seemed to play a significant role in one way or another.
So now, I do not know what to do with this information. I have been told that it is not my responsibility as a person of color to talk to white people about the far-reaching implications of their privilege, but if this is not for me to do, then whom we can we count on to take up this issue?
I do not know.
All I do know is that someone used their privilege to express a grievance in an unsavory and disrespectful way, and someone else, who happened to be a queer person of color, bore the traumatizing consequences of that act.
Where do I go from there?
Photo by Roqué Marcelo
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