Have you ever heard the saying, “When you’re used to privilege, equality feels like oppression”?
This is what it means.
For many years—decades even, if not centuries—men were in charge of businesses. They were the ones in the executive positions and on the boards of directors. They were the ones in senior and middle management.
Men had the privilege of being the only ones who could be in those positions.
Then women entered the workforce. Then they started moving into management, first in middle management, then senior management, and eventually the C-suite and the boards.
But never were men no longer allowed in management. We went from men being allowed in management and women not being allowed to men being allowed and women being allowed.
Women never took away ability; all they took away was exclusivity.
Same goes for white people.
For many years—decades even, if not centuries—white people were the politicians. They were the ones who were mayors and city councillors, MLAs and MPs, premiers and prime ministers.
White people had the privilege of being the only ones who could be in those positions.
Then people of colour entered politics. First they sat on school boards. Then they started moving into municipal politics, beginning in city council, then mayor, and eventually as MLAs and MPs. And now they’re leaders of political parties.
But never were white people no longer allowed to be in politics. We went from white people being allowed in politics and people of colour not being allowed to white people being allowed and people of colour being allowed.
People of colour never took away ability; all they took away was exclusivity.
And the same could be said about straight privilege, cis privilege, class privilege, able-bodied privilege, and so on.
When people of privilege complain about being oppressed because they have to share their position of privilege, they’re not actually complaining about oppression; they’re complaining about inclusivity and accessibility.
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