Recently I have written a lot blog posts about privilege. It was my hope to get some people to acknowledge their unearned privileges. For those reading who are well aware of the systemic nature of sexism, racism, abelism etc often there is the question of where do I go now.
Unfortunately there are no easy answers to this question. No matter what you do, you can never get rid of your unearned privileges. The nature of isms are systemic. For those that have taken the time to educate themselves, the next step involves taking action. Most look around them and feel overwhelmed by the task at hand. This is understandable as the world is filled with such negativity.
Not everyone can be Mother Theresa, nor does everyone have the desire to lead such a self sacrificing life. I am certainly not cut out for that. I am a strong believer in what I call micro activism. This entails incorporating your principles into your daily life.
Let's say that you hear someone making a racial comment, a WOC may object but coming from someone white because of the power differentials in our society the objection will be taken more seriously. If you hear someone saying something homophobic, or trans phobic, let that person know that their commentary is ignorant and why. When the opportunity arises, engage in critical conversations. Be a beacon for the truth. Each person we engage with is one more person that is forced to acknowledge their privilege.
Conversation should never be overlooked as a meaningful tool for change. Language is more than about simple communication, through language we have the power to change discourse and make the unimagined real.
If you are a mother, or are regularly engaged with children, you have the opportunity to have a large effect on the future. As children grow and mature they become a reflection of what we have taught them. Parenting from a feminist perspective is a revolutionary act. Each day as I engage with my sons, I make them aware of their unearned privileges and the necessity of treating all peoples as equal. When they go out into the world they will carry with them everything that I have taught them. The wonderful thing about children is that we don't know ultimately what they will become and the effect that they will have on the future, but if we raise them with a feminist ethic we can assure that whatever they choose to do, it will have a positive impact on the world.
Everyday small acts mean great change if we all commit to thinking of others before ourselves. Shop at unionized shops, investigate the companies that you purchase from, buy used when you can. Write letters to your governmental representatives, donate your time when you are able to worthy organizations but most importantly, commit to engagement. Make your every thought about change and create the change by making small adjustments in how you live your life.
I am no superwoman but I believe in living my politics daily. When I enter the world, I enter it as an engaged, critical womanist/feminist. This effects the relationships I choose to maintain, the companies I support, and the causes that I advocate for. Feminism is as much a part of my identity as any other indicator and as such I believe in expression through deed. Saying I know that I am privileged and then not moving forward is not mitigating privilege. Have the courage of your convictions and engage with others. Ignorance and hatred wins when we refuse to speak truth to power.