Truth and Meaning: Privilege

Truth and Meaning: Privilege

As you read this post, Jody and I will have just returned from Washington, D.C., after taking part in the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The memory of that event and the leaders who spawned it humbles me as the impact of their greatness lingers on today. Sadly, also lingering on today is the root cause of so much injustice in our nation – racism – and the privilege that racism engenders.

To understand this issue, you must understand this basic fact – the concept of “race” is a lie. The notion that homo sapiens is somehow divided into subspecies based on skin color and other physical attributes has no foundation in fact. Race is a fabrication of 19th century Europeans and Americans who presupposed that “white” culture is superior to other cultures and that all people must be converted to the “superior” religion of Christianity. And out of this flawed thinking derived theories of eugenics, which ultimately were responsible for multiple genocides in the past century.

Racism also creates the sense of privilege in our society. Privilege is the common conception that certain birth attributes are somehow “better” or more natural and therefore deserving of greater inherent worth. It is privilege that promotes the notion that non-whites are inherently more violent, more criminal than whites, and not simply that whites dominate our criminal justice system and control most of the wealth in society. It is privilege that blames women for being raped and abused, and not simply that misogynist men promote the objectification of all women as whores and house slaves. It is privilege that breeds fear of the non-existent “gay agenda,” and not simply a lack of education about sexual orientation and gender identity in nature.

So I march as an ally for those who cannot march; I speak when the oppressed have no voice; and I help open doors that are closed to those without our society’s privileges. For, like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I have a dream of a society where all of our boys and girls, gay or straight, will be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. I have a dream that all people, however they appear, whatever the gender of their identity, or whoever they love, will have the same access to housing, to jobs, to health care and to civil rights. Like Jefferson, I believe that we are all created as equals and that we are all endowed with the inherent right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.