While it's not a new concept, this year, more than ever, it's become crystal clear that there are disparities between the people who enjoy certain privileges in the U.S. and those who are left out of them. That’s why we teamed up with award-winning advocate Frederick Joseph, author of The Black Friend, for the Yahoo Life 5-Day Allyship Challenge with Frederick Joseph. This is a guided program that anyone can do, with a goal to help you understand privilege, how it can impact your thoughts and what you can do to help others.
Day one: Take stock of your privilege
Joseph recommends starting out by sitting down and thinking about what privileges you have in society. “In our society and all around us, there are people that face oppression, and there are people who face daily traumas based on various ways that they exist within systems that are built against them,” he says.
Joseph recommends going through the following checklist to examine your privilege:
FREDERICK JOSEPH: Hey, everyone. My name is Frederick Joseph, and I'm here with a five-day challenge. Each day, we're going to discuss one actionable thing that you can do to set you on the path of being a better ally.
To kick off day one, the first thing that I'm asking you to do is take an inventory of your privilege. When you're starting to try to combat systems that are hindering, traumatizing, or oppressing other people, you have to know how you fit into those systems yourself. Here's a checklist that I like to use when I'm thinking about privileges.
Let's start with gender. For instance, I'm a cisgender man. Sadly, we live in a patriarchal and heteronormative society, so I benefit from, one, being a cisgender person, and I benefit from being a man, whereas people who are non-gender-conforming, people who are transgender, and women suffer under oppression within that same system that I benefit from.
So next up, let's talk race. So as most of you can see, I'm a Black man. And therefore, in a society that's built on anti-Blackness, oftentimes, and white supremacy, there are benefits that many of you have that I personally don't have.
Next up on our list is class. Sadly, we also live in a very classist society, and the systems in place oftentimes benefit those who have financial means and economic access. And those who don't are not afforded the same opportunities, and often left to suffer.
Next up on our list is sexuality. We live in a system that, frankly, only benefits people who are heterosexual. Every single other person is left to be either oppressed or, again, receive opportunities that are lessened by the fact that they aren't heterosexual.
The next privilege on our list is disability. I'm someone who lives with multiple sclerosis. Most of the places that I go and most of the things that I do on a daily basis don't keep in mind my disability, nor the disabilities of other people. So for someone who's not disabled, most of the world is built for you.
So the last entry in our checklist is going to be physical appearance. So in my opinion, beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, but the reality is that we have standards that many people and systems conform to based on the beholder, oftentimes, being people who are white, people who are a certain height, people who have certain eye color, people who have certain skin tones, and things of that nature. So if you don't fit these standards, more times than not, you're left trying to figure out what standards you do fit, if not the beauty standards that are put in front of you.
So that's day one of our challenge. I challenge all of you write down some of the privileges that align with your experiences or your personal existence. For more resources on allyship, you can visit yahoo.com/allyship and look up the Yahoo Allyship Pledge. I'll see you all tomorrow.