What's in Your Bag of Privilege?

What's in Your Bag of Privilege?
Follow Nicole on Twitter @RealTalkNic

By Nicole Harding

Well as you know, George Zimmerman is back in the news.

While one man was found not guilty I was overcome by shock and disbelief not only at the verdict, but the divide that still exists. And how close the dissension is to my own heart.

Just like social media was used to draw attention to a teen being murdered and the shooter not being arrested, (Trayvon Martin), folks took to FB and Twitter to share their reactions. This is where it became personal and painful. National news is one thing and Florida law is one thing but personal friendships is quite another.

Giving space for hurtful and racists comments? Hmmmmm, does that make you guilty of sharing the same thoughts?  Do you hold everyone guilty by association? Time for me to delete some and take an inventory on the rest. But first…

When faced with disregard and flippant remarks from those I care about, I don't immediately charge it to racism. In fact, in most cases I charge this bad behavior to privilege. This invisible backpack of privilege we all wear, some fuller than others. An inventory of this backpack reveals so much.

Let's take a look inside:

1. Always treated respectfully by the law? Yes? Go ahead put that in!

2. Never been hungry? Ok, great. Add this.

3. Quality education? WOW. Make room in your backpack for this!

The list goes on and on and based on experiences, economics, and in some cases geography as many are lucky enough to have a bag that runs over. But that privilege can be a burden as well as a gift. A bag so full as to not allow you to be compassionate or to understand how someone else may feel.

A bag so full that you are content with the thought that a young minority teen must have been a thug because surely our good friend the watchman didn't shoot him for no reason. sigh.

I tell folks often, my lovely home and great job? These don't go to school with my son. Nor are they on the passenger seat when he gets pulled over by the police. My love for them? Well, that's not there either.

That is why it is so critical to connect and demand and remind folks to make room in their privilege bags for understanding and compassion. To throw out judgment every time you realize it has sneaked its way inside.

History shows us what happens when we don't do this: in tragic genocides, it was friends and neighbors that turned on each other. A survival of the fittest environment brings out what is ugliest in man. In Rwanda alone, 800,000 killed in 100 days. In some cases, even priests turned against their own congregations.

So when I hear people say, "what is the big deal?" or "look at his FB page, that kid was no angel" and these comments go unchecked, I want to remind the whole world, it is not the action of this one man, this one case that will be our unraveling. It is the inaction of all the rest. And that is real talk.

Nicole Harding is an expert in leadership development, wife, and mother focused on spreading positivity one conversation, one home project, and one dynamite deal at a time. Follow Nicole on Twitter @RealTalkNic.

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