Pervasiveness of Privilege

On my trip home from school this afternoon I stopped by the library to pick up a couple of books I had put on hold. One of them is Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town. As I walked back to my car, I read the flap on this book and it hurt me. (We’ll see how far I manage to read in the actual inside of the book.)

When I got back in the car, the news story on NPR was about the shooting in Charleston last night. I sat there listening to the responses of people being interviewed in Charleston and was struck by the power and pervasiveness of privilege in our society. It hurt me.

Missoula is more about the aftermath of rapes and the devastation caused by our society and our justice system. The response to victims from random people and from the official system is horrifying. So many look for a reason to explain away the rape, to justify what happened without placing blame on the man.

Discussions of the shooting in Charleston often include people looking for a reason to explain away the shooting, to justify what happened without accepting racism as the cause. The shooter’s mental state and history of social unease are brought up in the search for an answer that doesn’t require facing our societal issues with race.

Being male or being white carries such privilege.

Women fear walking alone in certain areas or drinking too much when out with friends or being caught in the wrong place at a frat party. Black people fear being stopped by police or walking alone in certain areas or, apparently now, going to a bible study at church.

Until we are willing, as a society, to face our flaws, our biases, our beliefs about others, we will never be able to make significant changes. Those with privilege will carry the power. Those without, will move about in fear.

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