The Perks of Being
By: Melody, Awareness Coordinator – Davis
It’s easy to take for granted all the things that come easily. Many like to attribute all their successes to their own ability, it’s only human nature to do so. From time to time it’s also helpful to take a step back and realize all the things that all of us have going for us. Over the years, the word privilege has gained a bad rep. No one wants to feel like their achievements were handed to them because of the family they were born into. The unfortunate reality is that some things are harder for some people than for others and that is not fair.
Self-assessment is important. Be thankful for the things you have and be compassionate towards those who have to struggle harder for the same achievements.
The first step is having the willingness to understand someone else’s perspective. To facilitate better understanding we have invited Sheridan Students to share their thoughts on the topic of privilege.
"I think that privilege is something that applies differently to each individual and or group.
An experience that I've had because of privilege would be applying for scholarships. I am able to apply to specific scholarships because I am African Canadian; somewhat a form of oppression (being categorized). Those who aren't are immediately disqualified.
I believe that some ways that we can improve as a society would be to is to not only listen and observe what is happening but also do something to stop it.
It was a great experience growing up in Canada - I was able to attend elementary and high school for free where as If I was still living in Africa that wouldn't have been possible. In Africa, specifically in Tanzania people have to pay a whole lot of money to attend all levels of school-education.
Education is not a right, it is a privilege."
- Cleopatra Chamushala
A Member of the Sheridan Social Justice Act Committee Club
"Privilege to me means having access to a life my fore parents could only dream of. Also, privilege is the idea of giving access to people behind me who might be cut off, based on what (real or perceived) is denying them access. I both know what it means to be denied access to privilege and to be the gate keeper to privilege. This is why as individual we must always know our power and privilege to open the access for all."
As for society when it comes to privilege I believe Martin Luther King said it in his speech "I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made straight; This means that everyone will be given a equal playing field and we will not think to deny access of one for gain of the other on all sides."
~ Jacqueline Groves ~
- Cheryl Williams
Saadia Salamath shares a story about the history of Mauritius.
"My parents were privileged enough to be able to immigrate to Canada in the 1980s from Mauritius. Mauritius, I have come to learn, means one of two things to people. It is either a strange and unfamiliar place that few have heard of or it is a utopian island to escape to, a sort of paradise on earth. However, hidden under this cover is the island’s long and violent history related to human labour.
Mauritius is a small island in the Indian Ocean, just off the coast of the African continent. It is very multiethnic due to the history of colonization by the Dutch, the Portuguese, the French and the English. During the Atlantic slave trade, slaves were forcibly brought over to cultivate the many sugar plantations. The workers were treated with severity, with overwork and personal chastisement. Their lodging accommodation was both confined and filthy or completely lacking and in cases of sickness, there was often neglect.
The lasting effects of colonization can still be felt today. The ancestors of many of today’s population were not native to Mauritius but were brought over, for the most part from India, China, Africa and Europe. Some of these later generations had disconnected with their ancestors’ places of origin. Others had simply forgotten about their family history.
Saadia’s story is a reminder of how history continues to shape our society. It is important to remember the struggles of our ancestors and to learn from the past so we may build a better future."
- Saadia Salamath
Regardless of Where you come from. There are times where life has given you a head start and time where you’ve went through hardship because of your origins. In the words of Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower:
“So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we'll never know most of them. But even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.”
If each of us goes through life showing the kindness and compassion we hope to receive the world would only be all the better for it. Only with less judgement and more understanding can we build a better future. I wanted to finish off this post by sharing this Privilege Walk video.
I hope you enjoy it and hey, every day is a new opportunity to reach out to someone. A bit of kindness can go a long way.