I find that many men of privilege often have a hard time accepting that fact. From what I’ve gathered, they seem to think unless there was an actual silver or platinum spoon in their mouth, they have in fact made their own way of their own accord. I scoff at you, I scoff.
Presented with such a dilemma, this single girl is happy to help for I am nothing if not resourceful. Thus this handy guide was born. Inspired by such works as The Cooper Review’s wildly successful “How To Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings” and “Are You Arguing With a Bot,” I dare not tread lightly.
Let me be the first to admit that all of us, myself included, constantly underestimate the power of positive role models or just the presence of positive people in our life even if they are not directly mentoring or parenting us. This is true even in adulthood.
Cautionary tale. I tried dating at age twenty-seven even though it wasn’t something I was particularly interested in because that’s what people my age were doing. Nothing too terrible happened, but it was not really a worthwhile exercise for me. The primary reason I did it was because that’s what everyone I knew was doing.
Similarly, I recognize one of the reasons I’m not happy in my current station in life is because none of the people around me are doing things I want to do be doing. The focus of women in their thirties in my immediate surrounding seems to solely be babies, husbands, and home ownership. It’s annoying, but I’m at least old enough to recognize it.
Additionally, in said workplace, no one that looks like me, talks like me or acts like me is in any real position of power or influence. So, I go to work, do my job and intentionally or not distance myself and try to fly under the radar (my non-white-man manager even encouraged this). I work in constant fear of calling attention to myself or being labeled too different so as to make others uncomfortable. I don’t want to make the “they” wonder why they even hired me in the first place. So now I’m called anti-social and labelled the one who likes to keep to herself. But I know first hand things or people who are too different from the “them” makes them uncomfortable. You’ve seen Big Brother or Survivor. You know who is always the first to get voted off the island. So this is my work day and I still have to do actual work.
A more positive example occurred just last month (Jul 2018). I stumbled upon The Cooper Review and loved the comics so much I wanted to make one. Then I thought hmmm that must be a white man; only white men make comics; I could never do that. Once I read the bio of the creator, I was like wait a minute. It’s a woman (of color). If she can do it, I can totally do this! So I searched and searched until I found a user-friendly comic maker and I made my first comic ever in life, at age 34. Yes everything in this paragraph sounds absurd and perhaps a bit anachronistic, but it’s true. That was my thought process in 2018 with three degrees living in America. The struggle is (still) real!
A comic is not even essential to my life. Imagine what it’s like for young people coming up with a stumble from the start. So without further ado, here is the single girl’s guide to identifying your privilege – for white men.
Identifying your privilege – a guide for white men
Yes = +1
No = 0
#1 Were you born healthy in America?
#2 Are you able-bodied?
#3 Did you grow up in a home?
[If you were homeless, un-domiciled, in foster care, cared for by a guardian, i.e. the state (-1)]
#4 Did you have running water, enough heating and cooling, most of the time?
#5 Did you have at least one parent in the home?
#6 Was at least one parent a contributing member of society?
#7 Did you have at least one nutritious prepared meal a day, most days?
#8 Did you have a designated room in your house for you to sleep in?
#9 Was your sleeping room a safe space?
[If NO, (-1)]
#10 Did you have a school in your neighborhood?
#11 Did you have clean clothes to wear to school?
#12 Were you safe getting to and from school and while at school?
[If NO, (-1)]
#13 Was it easier for you just to graduate from high school because that’s what most people you knew well did? Alternatively, did you attend an elementary, middle, or high school were more than 90% of students finished?
2+ : Check you privilege (Yes, Virginio, there really is some privilege there.)
#14 Did you have a bike?
#15 Were your free activities the community pool, a safe park, or after school activities?
#16 Were you ever driven or accompanied to and from school by a parent?
#17 Did anyone in your household or someone you knew well actively read books or the newspaper or printed media? Were there any books in the home? Did you have easy access to books or printed media?
#18 Were your relationships with adults or other children safe and healthy?
[OR If you found yourself becoming involved in an inappropriate relationship out of fear or for the protection they afforded you, (-1)]
#19 Were you ever in a desirable neighborhood or establishment where most people looked like you?
#20 Did most of your teachers or people in positions of power or positive influence look like you?
#21 Did someone you knew well graduate college? Did they look like you?
#22 Did someone you knew well (or looked like you) have at least one career that wasn’t a minimum wage job?
#23 Is it true that no one you knew well was ever incarcerated or had a criminal record?
#24 Is it true that no one you knew well was a teen mom, was dependent on public assistance, or had gang affiliations?
#25 Is it true that you never had opportunity to choose between committing a crime or going without a basic need like food or safe shelter?
[If NO, (-1)]
#26 Did the people in your life who made what you consider to be good choices look more like you?
#27 Is it true that no one has ever told you that someone like you can’t do x, y, z?
3+ : Why are you not president? If you are not in a position of power or influence, you are not realizing your full potential privilege. Go forth, my son. The world awaits!
For the visually inclined, this single girl also created a quick reference guide.
Quick Reference Guide
Read more: The New Yorker on White Fragility