I have privilege.
I am white. I am married to a white man. He supports me in everything that I do. I am a member of the American middle class. I am well educated. I have a stable job that I am fairly compensated for performing. For the most part I do not experience workplace discrimination. I own my own home. I have good credit. I walked into a bank, applied for a mortgage, and walked out with a pre-approval letter. It was easy. I own two well-maintained and reliable cars with insurance for both. And if I wanted to replace one of the cars, I could do that today. I have money in my checking account. And my savings account. And my retirement account. I am able to budget my money to go on vacations and for home maintenance. If my car or my furnace breaks unexpectedly, I can get them fixed without enduring financial hardship. I have excellent medical insurance, the money to pay my co-pays and deductibles, and the knowledge to advocate for myself. I have the means to purchase and cook healthy and nutritious foods. I can take time off if I get sick and not worry about job security. Aside from a few grants that I was eligible for in college, I have never received government help of any kind. I have a copy of my birth certificate (two, actually). And my social security card. I have a passport. I have a driver's license. Heck, I even have a gender neutral name, so if you see my name on paper you can't immediately tell if I'm a man or a woman.
I have it pretty good.
I am not rich and I never will be. I do not say any of this to brag or draw attention to myself. I worked my ass off to get to the point that I'm at today. Aside from my own hard work, perseverance, and resilience, I acknowledge that I wouldn't be where I am today if not for luck and a few people who entered my life at just the right time to mentor me and guide me and give me a swift kick to the ass when necessary. People who saw more in me then I saw in myself. And I acknowledge that it could all disappear in an instant.
This is privilege.
But it hasn't always been this way for me.
Beyond being white and straight, I spent a good portion of my life not being able to tell you any ways that I had privilege.
I had a childhood where I grew up fast. I shouldered responsibility that wasn't age appropriate. I endured things that no child should endure ever.
If you asked my high school teachers, they probably would have told you that I had equal odds of making something of myself and of being an unwed mother of three on welfare and cooking meth to sell in my free time. I was smart, I just didn't have a whole lot of direction back then. My high school guidance counselor told me that she didn't know why I was bothering to go to college because I'd never finish.
I worked my entire way through college and paid my tuition myself with wages and loans. Many (most) of my peers didn't have to work. There were a few semesters where I wasn't sure if I'd be able to return to school because of money.
I was without health insurance from ages 22-25, despite working full time at a low wage job. I had the misfortune of getting sick and requiring hospitalization at one point. It took me five years to pay off this bill, and that was after they gave me a "discount" because I was considered low income.
There was a point in my life where I had to make the choice between keeping the lights on and buying groceries. I got very creative with Ramen Noodles.
If not for Planned Parenthood, I wouldn't have been able to afford birth control or checkups. Like the time I found a lump on my breast. It turned out to be nothing and went away on it's own, but I knew that it was nothing to worry about because of PP. They gave me low cost birth control too. It's no secret that an unplanned pregnancy at that point of my life would have drastically altered my life trajectory. I don't think I'll ever be able to repay them, though through my regular donations, I'll do my best to pay it forward.
There was a time when a car repair or unexpected bill would have put me in crisis mode.
I overcame a lot. So much more then I'm willing to write about publicly.
I know what it is like to struggle every single day. I vow never to forget this. I also know privilege. I vow to not use my position of privilege to judge others, and instead to use my voice to advocate for them.
Knowing all of this combined with my previous posts about politics in my country, you'd have every reason to assume that I marched in the Women's March. I didn't. I believed in every single thing that the march stood for. I wanted to be there. Up until the day before I planned to go to the sister march in my city. I wanted to use my voice for those who are trying like hell to claw their way out of the cycle.
My anxiety won on that day and I didn't go. I think I'll regret not going for the rest of my life.
I did, however, stand with all of my sisters who did march. I am so proud of them. I was with all of them in spirit.
The march was important to me because I believe that the most qualified person should be the one who gets the job. I've been passed over for a job despite being more qualified than the person chosen simply because I lacked a penis.
The march was important to me because I believe in equal marriage. I believe the government should have no authority to prevent two consenting adults from entering into the legal contract of marriage.
The march was important to me because I believe in equal pay for equal work.
The march was important to me because I believe in affordable, high quality childcare options and reasonable paid maternity leave.
The march was important because I believe that the government has no business legislating my medical care. That should be between me and my doctor.
The march was important to me because, on the intake paperwork for my recent surgery, I was asked if my husband consented to the procedure. No. My uterus. My body. My choice. Period. He doesn't get a say. Of course he supported my choice, but that's not the point. I shouldn't need his signature to get medical care for my body.
The march was important to me because I believe that there has been systematic discrimination against non-white populations in this country (since it's inception) and that we haven't done enough to right those wrongs.
The march was important to me because I believe that all Americans (and citizens of the earth) should have insurance and access to medical care.
The march was important to me because I believe that a person should be able to practice the religion of their choice or no religion at all.
The march was important to me because discriminating against a person because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, zip code, or any other reason is wrong.
The march was important because washing your hands on the way out of a public restroom is far more important to me then the parts that the person in the next stall who is minding their own business while taking care of their biological functions was born with and whether or not they correspond to the sign on the door.
The march was important to me because violence against women is not ok. Women shouldn't have to worry about being catcalled just for walking down the street. Women shouldn't be called a whore for their clothing choice. Women shouldn't have to be wary of accepting a drink because it might be spiked with something that will incapacitate them. Women shouldn't be grabbed by the pussy or raped behind a dumpster. And they definitely shouldn't be victimized over and over and over and over again when they have the courage to report it.
And finally, the march was important to me because we cannot normalize abhorrent behavior and hatred. Our president needs this message more than just about anybody else. Because if our president normalizes these behaviors, I shudder to think of what it means for my country. By not speaking out against poor behavior and by not apologizing for his own deplorable behavior, he normalizes it.
I suspect that there will be many more opportunities to march in the future. I will not miss those. And I think it's important that all of those who are lucky enough to have privilege make the commitment to advocate for those who don't.