Each year, many of us gather around large tables with our families and friends to enjoy delicious food and each others’ company. Throughout each Thanksgiving, we take time to think about how grateful we are to have food to put on the table (1 in 6 Americans struggle to have enough food each day) and to have the many wonderful people in our lives around the table with us.
And while we usually emphasize the “thanks” in Thanksgiving, being thankful and gracious for everything in our lives, we could also choose to emphasize the “giving” part in Thanksgiving. Not only could we be thankful for all of the opportunities and privileges that we have in our lives, but we could also then consider how to give some of those opportunities and privileges to others in our communities.
When I say “privileges”, I mean things that are unasked for, unearned, and are often invisible in our lives until we think about it. For example, as a male, I am privileged to not have to worry about being hired, or fired, for a job because of my sex. Or that, as a person who is physically able bodied, I do not have to worry about where or how I can enter certain buildings.
It is possible to give up some of your privileges to others in your communities to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to live a happy and healthy life. While we may be “equal” in the “eyes of the law” (which isn’t true), we have a lot of work to do within our communities to eliminate harmful discrimination that continues to bring us down as a nation.
And while it may be hard, or appear impossible, to give up some of your privilege, that doesn’t mean you should give up. Just think about what is at stake — people are struggling with poverty, poor education systems, and even dying because our system of domination and oppression in the United States.
I hold privilege in society because I am male, half-White, economically secure, Jewish, cis-gendered, heterosexual, educated, and able bodied.
So how can you give away some of your privilege? It’s an extremely personal process, but here are some concepts that I’m thinking about to help me in giving some of my privilege to others who need it way more than I do:
My privilege was unearned — I did nothing to gain it.
Listen before speaking.
The language I choose is important.
No two forms of oppression are the same.
This is a process of learning and growth.
I hope you have a great Thanksgiving (with an emphasis on the “giving”)!
Originally published at evanltraylor.wordpress.com on November 27, 2014.