This cartoon really resonated with me. For eight years, I was a teacher at a continuation high school in Chula Vista, California. During that time, one of the most striking lessons I learned was how insidious privilege could be.
I would get annoyed at a student for always showing up late to class… until I realized he had to wake up at 5:00 AM to get to the bus stop for the hour-and-a-half-long ride to school.
I would get frustrated at a student for not doing her homework… until I realized she went straight from school to her full-time job at a fast-food restaurant, so she could help support her family.
I would get mad at a student for being absent several days without notice… until I realized he had to stay home to take care of his sick younger brother, because his single mother couldn’t take time off from work.
You may think you achieved your place in life through hard work and determination. But then you see someone else who’s wiling to work just as hard, or even harder, but simply doesn’t have the safety nets you did. And you realize how lucky you really are. That’s how privilege works. When you have it, you take it for granted, and you don’t realize how much you count on it.
In a way, privilege is like body odor: You never notice when you have it, but everyone else sure can smell it on you.
If you’ve ever looked down upon those who haven’t found the same success as you, if you’ve ever blamed their lot in life on their own laziness, then maybe this cartoon will change your perspective somewhat….