Don’t You Tell Me To Check My Privileges

Very recently, I was told to go away and check my “white priviliges”, the very things that are supposed to be afforded to me as as white British woman born and living in the UK. This person wasn’s strictly affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement, but they were certainly supportive of them.

I know what you’re thinking, it figures, right? White woman, living in the UK, I should have nothing to fear? Let me explain.

After this incident, I went away feeling personally affronted but nonetheless did as I was told (for a change). I went away and took some time out of my day to take a privilege walk. I must have gotten pretty far, right?

Not really, 6 steps, and two of them were because I could move backwards and forwards.

I was surprised by this because as a white woman living in the UK, I should have gone quite far, so why the hell would i not be as far in the race as some of my peers? Then it daunted upon me – In this whole privilige walk, disability was mentioned once, and many of the things that haven’t happened to me because of my ethnicity, have happened to me because of my disability. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look:-

  • If you were ever called names.. ..take one step back. – Not because of my race, no, but walking the street and being called “muntface”, “spaz” and “cripple” is hardly pleasant, and let’s not forget the group of “friends” who found it hilarious to mock mu disabilities behind my back.
  • If you were ever denied employment.. ..take one step back. – Again, generally no, but because of disability? Yes. I’ve only ever had one job because many firms just can’t accommodate someone with a fluctuating condition.
  • If you saw members of.. ..portrayed on television in degrading roles, take one step back – Nope, but who remembers Andy and Lou from Little Britain? It used to infuriate me that anyone dared to insinuate that disabled people are perfectly able when nobody is looking. Most of us try and suffer instead.
  • If you were ever afraid of violence.. ..take one step back – Not only threatened, but attacked too, multiple times! I’ve had half a brick thrown at me because of the way I look, I’ve been beaten about the head with a book of stolen lottery tickets while going about my day, I’ve been tripped, splashed with hydrochloric acid (she even had the nerve to dryly declare “oops!” as she did it), beaten and pulled around the playground. Because of my ethnicity, then no. But because of my disability? Absolutely.

So with that in mind, I went away and gave Buzzfeed’s own privilige checklist a go, hoping for a more rounded answer. Not a perfect test I do realise, but it’s still something.

I scored 13% – Even according to Buzzfeed, I’m not privileged at all.

Buzzfeed knows, Buzzfeed gets it right.

I have worked hard to be where I am today. I worked hard to be able to walk and talk normally. None of that was a privilege, just guts, sweat, and sheer determination.

Okay, so some of that result comes down to my sexuality, but most of that comes down to being a disabled person and my family not being able to afford much. I am part of camp “kinky as a sexual orientation” , but that’s another story for another time.

Every year, children of all races and ethnicities are placed up for adoption, but children with disabilities make up part of adoptions, too. After some digging around, I uncovered that children in the USA are typically adopted within eighteen months, but children with disabilities average 4 years in care.

Is it a priviliege for these young children to be waiting to find a loving home, spending more than twice as long as their peers in temporary houses because of something outside of their control?

Abortion is five times higher in black communities, but what about the thousands of babies with Down Syndrome who aborted every year? Shouldn’t we also be focusing on them, shouldn’t we be focusing on the disabled people who would otherwise be aborted in the womb?

Our lives matter too!

In the media, if a disabled person is murdered, the press freely writes “John Doe, who had X”. They would never dream of writing “who was black”. So tell me then, why is it okay to someone deminish someone as lesser because of a disabilitiy, but not because of the colour of their skin?

We are all people!

Friends, I firmly stand with you when you say that black lives matter, I really do, but the simple truth is that all lives matter, we cannot be separating one from one another or focusing on one and not the other. We cannot be saying black lives matter, but disabled lives sort of don’t matter so much right now. Every life matters, every person has a voice, and every voice needs to be heard. Black communities may be prejudiced against, but so are disabled people. What is right for one and right for another, needs to be right for all.

We need to stand up to those rogue cops who are needlessly heavy handed and we need to stand up to racism, too. But more than that, in 2020, we need to band together and make sure that each and every one of those “-isms” that still exists will soon be a thing of our collective past.

Be Bold, Be Bright, Be Beautiful,

Helen xx

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