In my last blog, Don’t Sleep, I talked about recognizing privilege in your circle. For example, if you’re a cop, you may know a lot of other folks in law enforcement that can help you out if the need arises. If you’re a teacher, you may know people who can help your child get into the best schools. If you’re a nurse, you may have access to doctors and researchers. If you’re a videographer, you may have access to celebrities and influencers.
You’re an insider.
Our circles may come from our work, family or community. They also come from our race, religion and a host of other attributes. When you’re white you probably know a lot of white people. When you’re Catholic, chances are you know many Catholics and so on.
Knowing that you are part of a group doesn’t mean you recognize or appreciate the privilege the group affords you. For example, if you’re a man, you might have an awareness of sexism but have no awareness of male privilege. The same is true for any privilege status. We might be aware that colorism, racism and ableism exist, but have never thought about how it benefits us. As I continue to teach my 12 Steps to Mind-Blowing Happiness, I’ve learned that discontent often grows in a lack of gratitude. It’s difficult to experience the deepest levels of gratitude without self-awareness.
This Labor Day Weekend, try this gratitude practice on for size. Make it a labor of self-love. Answer these questions to assess inherent privileges that you might be overlooking:
1. Are you cisgender?
6. Are you considered a WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant)?
7. A natural-born citizen?
8. A permanent resident of the U.S.?
11. Is English your first language?
12. Are you under 50?
13. Are you considered an ideal or average physical size?
14. Do you consider yourself middle class?
15. Are you Christian?
Every “yes” answer indicates you are a member of, or in closer proximity to, the dominant culture. That access is privilege. Now take a deep breath and let that settle into your body. Take a moment to journal or meditate on this. See what rises to the surface. Notice where you can be grateful and where you feel discomfort.
If you feel discomfort in your privilege, consider what you can do to support people who do not have the same privilege. If you’re a male, what can you do to support women? If you’re a natural-born citizen, can you support refugees or undocumented workers? If you’re Christian, can you support religious freedom for others? If you’re cisgender, can you encourage the LGBTQ community?
I thought about asking, Are you human? Speciesism is real. The atrocities committed against non-humans are food for another blog. If you’d like to learn more, I encourage you to visit my new website, blackveganlife.org and check out the resources tab.
For today, lean into your gratitude and self-awareness. Grow your compassion. Get active. This world needs your labor of love.
I wish you passion, purpose and the realization of your fullest potential!