News

Automatic privilege and other invisible benefits

HERE'S TO US: One person's idea of privilege may not be another's.
HERE'S TO US: One person's idea of privilege may not be another's. isaxar

PRIVILEGES are funny things. Most of us think we have a few, but not many. We tend to think it's all about silver spoons and having rich parents and owning property before the boom.

In fact we will go out of our way to demonstrate how few we had by issuing phrases like "when I was a boy/girl we had to walk four miles to school with no shoes" or on the flip side, "you old people don't know how hard it is the buy a house/get a job/etc these days".

It's a kind of privilege competition, and those who believe they have the least seem to think they are the winners, or losers as the case may be.

But there's an element to what I'll refer to as privilege blindness that ironically, only the privileged seem to suffer from.

Usually, as you grow up and start to develop empathy, you become more aware of these automatic privileges. You know, the ones you initially take for granted like being born in Australia. That's a fairly healthy start to enjoying a privileged existence. Then, in my case, there's being white in Australia. That one opens up a door so huge that those who enter it have the luxury of never ever acknowledging its benefits.

And while I fall short of the perfect trifecta, in not being male, two out of those three ain't a bad start to a privileged existence.

Then you add your own environmental circumstances.

Did you grow up in a reasonably happy family? Amazing privilege. A warm house? Booyah.

Did you get a good education? Keep 'em coming...

What about the fact you grew up being able to walk unassisted, can see properly or have great sporting prowess (it's Australia, remember).

The list is endless really. Good food, entertainment, travel - excellent work.

The fact I'm sitting here writing a column on privilege is also not lost. In fact having a job where you meet lots of different people and sometimes help them, or enlighten and entertainment them is pretty good going when it comes to eking out an existence.

But I was lucky. Despite having a limited education by today's standards and being a sole parent at 22, I got a casual job in the classifieds (remember those) department of a newspaper.

Luck maybe, but my white face and reasonable grasp of English definitely helped.

Then after years of on-the-job training and taking opportunities that came along, the journey went along a path I had no idea was possible (and still feels impossible some days).

Sure it helps to possess certain innate qualities and abilities as you travel those roads but again, these can also be honed and presented as a result of privilege.

Trying to obtain a university degree while working two jobs would not be easy but there's a certain privilege with being able to even do that, while those whose parents paid for their university education so they could concentrate on their studies is a privilege many students can only dream of.

Or getting a leg up financially through an inheritance or having your parents able to assist you. Or walking away from a marriage with enough assets to start again.

Or having a partner who provides you with freedom to pursue your dreams. Or winning a chunk of cash in Lotto (you have to be able to afford to buy a ticket and be extremely lucky).

They are all privileges but do we acknowledge that in our pathway to our success?

It's great to be a good role model and inspire others about how well you did, but quite often there's a lot more at play than just hard work, or making astute decisions.

The opportunities to do that work or make those impressive choices, don't come automatically to everyone.

Maybe acknowledge this the next time you talk about how hard you had it or continue to describe yourself as self-made, by going through a quick, basic check list and see how you really fare when it come to privileges before you even set to work on your chosen path.

You might be surprised how well-off you really are.

OTHER STORIES by LESLEY APPS:



Pauline Hanson's plane story contradicted by leaked tapes

Pauline Hanson with the One Nation plane — complete with party logo and a caricature of Senator Hanson — flown by James Ashby.

Senator Hanson indicates developer Bill McNee donated the cash

Community input for construction of new jail

Artists impression of new Grafton Jail.

Clarence Valley community's chance to join in planning the new jail

EPA fines council depot contractor, but finds no asbestos

Water pouring out of the South Grafton council depot site.

The EPA has fined the South Grafton depot site contractor $15,000.

Local Partners

TRIBUTES FLOW: Fond memories for a fine man

KIND words shared by our readers highlight how fondly Neville Lollback will be remembered in the Clarence Valley community.


NRRRL: Magpies on a mission for home fans

ON A MISSION: Captain- coach Dan Randall hopes to lead Lower Clarence Magpies to their first victory of the 2017 NRRRL season when they run out in front of their home fans against Evans Head Bombers at the Nest this Sunday.

Lower Clarence ready for another cracker at the Nest

Polocrosse hits fever pitch at Hawthorne Park

ALL SYSTEMS GO: This weekend Grafton Polocrosse Club hosts its first annual carnival at Hawthorne Park since the club re-formed.

New lease of life in the Clarence Valley for equestrian team sport

Support for Kara's treadmill marathon explodes

Former Grafton and now NSW cricketer Kara Sutherland bowling to cricket legend Sir Viv Richards. Photo: MARK NEWSHAM

Support for treadmill marathon thrills organiser Kara Sutherland.

Sam Armytage and Tom Cruise? Saaaaay what?

SAMANTHA Armytage has hit back at rumours she’s dating Tom Cruise, following reports the pair had hit it off during an interview on Sunrise.

Musical tribute to flood volunteers released

Songwriter honours flood volunteers who helped their neighbours.

Lismore songwriter Simon Thomas was moved by strangers' kindness

Karl Stefanovic's rant about Schapelle Corby 'a bit rich'

Karl Stefanovic is sick of hearing about Schapelle Corby.

Maybe he just wanted to make himself the story.

Could Schapelle be heading for Gladstone?

Australian Schapelle Corby is escorted by Bali Police at the parole office in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, 27 May 2017.

Schapelle's mother teases her free daughter could be Gladstone bound

Six things you never knew about Men in Black

Mushu the pug

It's been 20 years since Men in Black first hit cinemas

10 strange stories behind famous sex scenes

Khaleesi and Khal Drogo in a steamy moment.

Every set has their own way of filming sex scenes

HBO spills new details on Game of Thrones’ final season

Game of Thrones’ eighth and final season will only have six episodes.

New details about what to expect from the eighth, final instalment.

This is real estate's billion-dollar man

Bob Wolff at AREC with John McGrath of McGrath Real Estate.

They don’t call him the “Billion dollar man” for nothing

Man's amazing comeback from monster crisis

Pat O'Driscoll agents Penny Keating and Doug Webber sold 56 Agnes St, The Range at auction over the weekend.

NOT long ago, he sold his possessions to pay staff. Now he's back.

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

One of Maryborough's most historic homes is still for sale

FULL OF HISTORY: Trisha Moulds is owner of the historic Tinana state known as Rosehill. The beautiful home is currently for sale.

It has been the scene of both joy and tragedies over the years.

The face of the Sunshine Coast's overpriced rental crisis

Alyx Wilson had to rent a $385 unit in Currimundi because the market was too competitive for cheaper rental housing. She is now renting a room from friends who own a house in Currimundi, and says its much more affordable.

Young people feel the strain in competitive, expensive rental market

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!