Okay, so I can’t believe I need to do this but it’s become clear that I need to specify what a system is and that society does not exist in a vacuum.
A system is made up of connected parts. Society is a system made up of connected people. We’re all part of it and we all define it.
When one group of people in this system is saddled with a negative stereotype, it’s going to be used against them. And how did that group get saddled with that negative stereotype, you may ask?
Well, that’s what happens when someone or some other group (let’s call them Group A) decides that all the people in that other group (Let’s call them Group B) are guilty of something that doesn’t help the system. That “guilty trait” is then used to validate Group A not hiring anyone from Group B (or to pay them unfairly, or to sexually assault them, or to murder them). Eventually Group A rises to the top and Group B is trampled underfoot.
Now sometimes people from Group A realize how bad this is and they talk to people in Group B and sometimes they even listen and steps towards equality between the groups is made.
But then something happens. Maybe part of Group A won’t stop using those old stereotypes against Group B or maybe they make up new ones. Those people in Group A (let’s call them Group A.1) make little comments here and there or seemingly innocuous jokes about Group B and the rest of Group A thinks Group A.1 is just kidding. But they aren’t. They still think that Group B is beneath them and deserves to be beneath them. And people in Group B are still suffering. The rest of Group A can help fix this if they stop ignoring what’s happening to Group B and if they continue work with Group B towards equality.
Most of us are probably in Group A in some ways and Group B in others and that’s okay. (Ex. You might be white and have a chronic illness. You might be male and below the poverty line. You might be straight and a women.) It’s not a contest to see who has it worse or who has it best. The important thing is to acknowledge where you are in the system, recognize when Your Group A.1 is damaging the Group B’s around you and take away their power but telling them it’s not okay. Recognizing your privilege is not a bad thing but ignoring it is part of the problem.
433 Notes/ Hide
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