Jasmine Knox, Staff Writer

Privilege: maybe you’re the type of person to call people out on it if they frequently use theirs to their advantage (I know I am), or maybe you just want people to be more aware of the disparity that privilege places among us.

Either way, it definitely exists in many forms and transcends all kinds of boundaries.

There are many different ways in which the top one percent of our nation (and the entire world) use their privilege to make sure that the rich get richer while the poor get poorer, most especially in our government.

I would like to take a second to examine what kinds of privilege are out there and why they matter.

First, there’s something called “pretty privilege.” In a nutshell, “pretty privilege” is the idea that more attractive individuals have it easier. “Pretty privilege” is all around us.

Just visit your local Hooters and ask yourself if any average woman could get a job there waiting tables. “Pretty privilege” is also evident when the bartender at your favorite bar pays more attention to the prettier women, or when the waiter at a restaurant pays more attention to your attractive date than they do to you.

“White privilege” is self-explanatory. It acknowledges that white or lighter-skinned individuals are awarded more privileges and ease in life than others. This is completely evident in the fact that 1/3 of black men will go to jail in their lifetime.

A new national study conducted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development found that when equally qualified white and black prospective homeowners visited the same housing agencies or providers, in more than half the cases the white prospective homeowners were shown more properties.

In another test in the same study, a white customer searching for a two-bedroom apartment was shown both a one and two-bedroom apartment and given application for both.

Alternatively, a Hispanic customer also searching for a two-bedroom apartment just two hours later was told that there was nothing available.

This type of discrimination forces a large number of minorities into less well-developed communities, therefore breeding many generations of low socio-economic status minorities.

And although they are afforded the same opportunities to get educations and jobs, it’s very hard when employers tend to favor their white applicants or even when they are forced to get jobs in high school instead of focus on  other important things like grades and college applications. This is just one way privilege has shaped the demographics of our nation.

Can you name the hit rom-com that featured a homosexual couple in a normal light? What about a compelling drama with a homosexual lead?

If you can’t, you are experiencing  what is known as “straight privilege.” Most portrayals of homosexuality in the media focus on just that: the homosexuality of the relationship.

In the hit show “Glee”, there were several homosexual relationships featured among the program’s main and minor characters. However, they were not shown in the same normative light that heterosexual relationships are. The focus of those characters was their homosexuality, not their passions or talents or backstories as characters.

Additionally, the rate of bullying towards LGBTQ students as well as the homelessness rates of LGBTQ youth who are thrown out of their homes creates a disparity and lack of privilege towards LGBTQ youth.

So how do we begin fix the problem of privilege? We acknowledge our own privilege and actively work towards equality. If we know someone getting paid less for the same job because of their race, gender or sexual orientation, we say something about it.

We talk about it and acknowledge that as a primarily white, upper-middle class student population, we are privileged.


Photo Courtesy of Cary Bass-Deschenes via Creative Commons