Sometimes, it was just plain comical. I will never forget the time I was in Atlanta, Georgia. My friend and I were in town exploring while our parents were off at some conference. As we walked downtown in the year 2000, the number of curious looks and questions we got was quite interesting. Many have never seen anyone that looked like us. Which exotic land were we from?
Such an interesting word. What exactly is privilege? The Websters dictionary definition is: "a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a specific group of people".
In this day and age, this word means so much more. There are varying levels of privilege that comes from a myriad of things such as race, religion, wealth, skin color, and education level.
As a minority woman from a Muslim religious background, I am certainly not from the most privileged of groups. However, in my own right I have many advantages over others. As an American Born Confused Desi, I have privilege over my brethren that were not born here or are not a U.S. Citizen. I can travel in and out of the country freely (especially relevant in this current political state). Born here, I was privileged with the opportunity to receive a stellar education. From elementary school, I was only in the best schools and programs. That and all the extra homework my parents made up for me just to sharpen my brain even more.
I'm Privileged in my exposure to many groups of people. I have friends of all backgrounds. I love all types of cuisines. My traveling has been extensive. My English is pretty much perfect minus a slight New Yorker twang.
I have privilege based on my Anglo Saxon features. My long flowing hair. You know I've been told that I don't look like your average Desi. I knew I had privilege over my sisters that looked so much like me but I happened to be the light skinned sister. I knew it the moment this little girl came up to us to ask me why my sisters were darker than me, or by the number of compliments I received even they are so much more beautiful.
Privileged to have been born to a family that is considered higher in the totem pole of social standing. I knew that it meant something when a personal family friend held up a plane just so we could finish eating dinner in enjoyment. All of these privileges have granted me a special, unique experience that others have not received.
Sure, my name still throws off many employers. The typical job search can sometimes be fruitless despite by stellar resume and background. Once I land the interview, I'm usually golden. But getting there? That proves more difficult.
In my home city, I don't get the surprised looks of my perfect English. When I go elsewhere, they always wonder how I speak such perfect English?
Many stereotypes work against me. But there are many things that also work for me. I have the ability to flow in and out of different circles with ease, since I am not too much of just one thing.
What is for sure though, my special circumstances, my privileges, the pitfalls they all make me who I am today. It has afforded me the opportunity of exposure. I have reaped the rewards of the more privileged. But I have also gained a particular understanding of those who are less so. And I feel your pain.