The Interplay of Multiple Points of Oppression and Privilege in My Day to Day Life part 1

There are two ways that the word Intersectional is used in social justice oriented spaces. Arguably the most commonly used definition is to indicate multiple levels of marginalization in a general sense. However Kimberle Crenshaw coined the term to specifically have language to talk about multiple levels of marginalization within the black community and how that changes and effects IBPoC experiences. Because this word and concept was not intended to be co-opted for the use of white and non black PoC, I will not be using it in this essay. 

*I am breaking this down into more digestible sections so it is not a huge wall of text. 

I want to start with my privileges, the things in my life that protect me and add automatic weight to everything I say. The big ones are of course being white. This one can not be underestimated , whiteness softens the blow of every other aspect of my opression, makes it less dangerous, and lifts each one of my privileges to an even higher and more impactful level. I could talk solely on this post about the ways I am protected by my whiteness and still not cover it all. It is that far reaching and intertwined with every aspect of our culture of colonialism and oppression. I was also taught to speak English as my first language and in a socially accepted middle class, white, “professional” dialect when it is expected, which means the things I say are met with less resistance. I have a stable roof over my head and necessary utilities such as water, electricity, internet access, and at least one cell phone in the family. These privileges allow me to take advantage of what resources that are available to me and increase the ease with which I can potentially increase my resources.

Also there are a set of less likely to die privileges that are complicated by erasure which is a sort of emotional violence, and does result in higher suicide and self medication rates but still means I am less likely to be physically attacked. Those are the situational passing privileges of being cis passing and het passing due to people assuming parents of small children must be heterosexual and cisgender. Finally, Transgender people who are read as”female” by the public are less likely to be murdered, and less likely to be the victims of physically violent hate crimes in general. 

Other ways that people’s opinions can be skewed to my favor before I even open my mouth is that I am in my thirties which is the perfect storm of both young enough and old enough to not be out of hand dismissed, written off, erased, and/or infantalized. That means people tend to take me much more seriously than they used to, while not yet writing me off as archaic or soley a caretaker and advice giver. I’m also moderately attractive as gauged by white, colonialist, European beauty standards, and within a range of socially acceptable weight and body same shape presentations. Though it may seem silly to you if you share these privileges, all of these things mean people are more receptive to listening to me and taking me seriously, which makes it not at all silly. People who do not have these privileges are often erased from dialog and dismissed outright in such a way that makes it extremely difficult for them to get people take them seriously, or to see them at all. 

*sometimes we are blind to the ways we have privilege because it is seemingly such an intrinsic part of our existence, to that end if I think of other places of privilege I benefit from, I will add them in. 
I believe that for myself as a white person, if I am having any discussion about my marginalized identities, I need to start from the places I am not marginalized, where I need to be mindful of the social power I hold and how I wield it both explicitly and implicitly. 

Continue reading Part Two and three here. 


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