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.


Massive girders arrive for new bridge construction

BIG DELIVERY: Girders arrive for the Sportsman Creek bridge construction at Lawrence.

First of 30 Super-T girders arrive from Coffs Harbour

RIVER OF DREAMS: Students push for action on riverfront plans

Grafton High students Lily Robertson and Georgia Watts presented to councillors about the Clarence River Masterplan.

Frustrated by lack of action, girls take future plans into own hands

Our future in your hands (and a cartoonist's)

Cartoonist to leave mark on Our Future Clarence workshops

Local Partners

Holy schnit: This steak's the size of a small child

It's not every day you get served a steak as big as a baby for lunch, unless you're eating at the Pinnacle Pub.

OJ loses cool as he begs to go free

Simpson was convicted in 2008 of enlisting some men he barely knew, including two who had guns, to retrieve from two sports collectables sellers some items that Simpson said were stolen from him a decade earlier.

Tension at the parole hearing didn't stop OJ going free

Lead singer of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington, dies age 41

Coroner spokesman Brian Elias says they are investigating Bennington's death as an apparent suicide but no additional details are available.

Chester Bennington's body was found in LA at 9am local time.

Tamara's bittersweet MasterChef exit (take two)

Mackay's Tamara Graffen has already gained valuable work experience since her elimination from MasterChef.

MACKAY cook's heartwarming send-off from finals week.

Clarence Valley Gig Guide

DON'T miss the internationally-renowned Acca Dacca show at the Grafton District Services Club on Saturday night.

Check out who's belting out the best tunes this week

Why Sleeping Duck turned down a $500,000 offer on Shark Tank

Sleeping Duck founders Selvam Sinnappan, left, and Winston Wijeyeratne.Source:Supplied

Melbourne university mates turn down hug Shark Tank ffer

Chopin fans get insight into life

ACCLAIMED ENSEMBLE: Contemporary music group Syzygy will be performing at the Clarence Valley Conservatorium on Sunday, August 13.

Big term coming up for Clarence Valley Conservatorium

Island resort living from just $250 a week

Couran Cove on Stradbroke Island is undergoing a makeover. Photo: Steve Holland

Resort offering permanent rentals at almost half normal rental price

Historic OddFellows Hall in Grafton up for auction

AGENT: Terry Deefholts inside the Oddfellows Hall in Grafton. The building is up for auction  tonight.

Built in 1892, it could be yours for the right price

New era for stunning historic Rocky venue

St Aubins Village, West Rockhampton.

St Aubins Village reopens to the public after years of closure.

Cashed-up investors driving Ipswich's luxury housing market

SOLD: Elia Youssef bought a home on Hilton Drive Camira for $830,000.

New wave of interstate investors and young super savers in town