I’m a very privileged person. I’m white. I was born in a fairly middle class setting. Yes, we struggled financially, but we survived. We always had a home. My parents both went to university and I was encouraged to do the same. I don’t have to worry about being followed around the mall for stealing, and I don’t have to worry about being perceived as a terrorist.
However, there are some ways in which I am not privileged. I am a woman. There will always be patriarchs who believe that there are things I cannot do as a woman. I have to disagree that “women participate in patriarchy” and that “people can only be subordinate if they allow it”. Yes, some women do participate in it. But not every woman does. I am constantly challenging patriarchy, whether or not that is good for my image. Also, did the African slaves brought over to the states allow themselves to be subordinate? Did the Jews allow Hitler to dominate them? These are blanket statements that were made in class that I believe should be challenged. Women have been treated as property by men for the entirety of recorded history. Men are, by nature, usually physically stronger than women and could impose force upon them. This doesn’t mean women allowed themselves to be raped, beaten, and treated as property.
For example, let’s tie this to the lecture by Patience. He talked about the white Afrikaans taking control of the country. He explained how male-centric the culture is and how they even oppressed their own women. He told us that there would be a cottage at the back of the house for the black maid to live. At night, the men would go into the cottage and rape the maid. Their white wives knew about it, but how could they say anything? If they did, they would be facing a large man with institutional power who could beat them, kick them out, kill them, or ignore them. Sure, they could leave, but when social injustice is institutionalized, they would have nowhere to go.
But I digress.
All this is to say that I am not always privileged. I am also not religious. Especially in Utah, this gives me a disadvantage. I am pushed away socially. I am not welcomed in certain groups because I am different. People perceive that something is wrong with me and my soul needs saving. The truth is, I don’t feel a need for religion in my life. That doesn’t mean I don’t have my problems, but it also doesn’t mean I “need Jesus”. I am even outcast in my own family, and let me tell you, that doesn’t feel great.
Patience told us he is also not a member of the dominant religion around here. That, plus being a black African man in Utah must be really tough. He has so much more to think about than I do. He’s disadvantaged in ways I am not. People may not know from looking at me that I’m not LDS, but people will always be able to see that he’s black. It was very interesting to hear his talk about South Africa and the institutional racism that still exists. I hope it helped my classmates learn that racism doesn’t disappear. It also helped me have a better picture of the history of South Africa, and added to my intercultural knowledge.