What even is privilege?

The Real Housewives of Sydney is a show everyone loves to hate. One of the housewives, Nicole, tells the other housewives that she walks her children to the back of the aeroplane to show them the horrors of the peasants flying in economy class. You have to see the video for yourself. As idiotic as this exchange may seem, I can somewhat appreciate the sentiment.

Whenever we run out of bread, or milk or peanut butter, I quickly reassure my three year old that we can buy more from the shops to avoid a total implosion of her universe.

The other day she broke one of her toys. She brought it over to me, explained it was broken and calmly suggested in her toddler logic that I buy her another one from the shops. This was her solution for everything.

It got me thinking about this idea of privilege and entitlement. I know my kid is too young to completely understand what it all means, but I thought about my own place in the world.

We are so quick to point out that the real privilege is the middle age white man. That’s the internationally recognised symbol of privilege. I, myself am guilty of this.

After observing my daughter’s behaviour I realised that I’m privileged. Me, a 36 year old brown woman, of Muslim decent, living in Queensland. Privileged AF.

It’s all about perspective.

The simple fact that I can replace food items when they finish, that I live in a house, I have three meals a day, snacks, and I’m typing on a laptop that costs more than what some people earn in a year, is privilege.

We have clean water, shelter, government benefits, medical assistance and the list goes on and on.

My parents grew up in a village called Menouf in Egypt. I remember going there as a kid and seeing how some of my family lived. They were in tiny apartments with huge families all living together in such a small place. They still had horses and carriages to get around the village. They didn’t eat anywhere near as much as we did and they had a hole in the ground as a toilet. Granted, that was in the late 80’s and early 90’s. A lot has changed since then. But we still live like royalty comparatively.

What struck me, even as a child was how happy they all were. I remember asking mum, “How can they be so happy when they have so little?” She replied simply that it was all they have ever known.

That was the first time in my life I knew, that whatever adversity I was to face, I was still incredibly lucky to have what I have.

Passing down the privilege

My dad fought in two wars as a young man. He rarely talks about it. Mum was a bit younger during those wars and told me about hiding in bunkers when she was at school during air raids.

I don’t have the capacity to comprehend what that must have been like for either of them. There are so many atrocities happening right now around the world.

I won’t lie, I have my days when I am pissed off that the Italian joint down the road closes early and I can’t get a cannoli. I have crazy hankerings for those delightful treats and will act like a toddler when I am denied. And sometimes, shit in my world gets bad and I do feel sorry for myself. I’m human and I am in no way suggesting that I am the poster child for humble gratitude and appreciation.

But I am more than aware of how good we’ve got it. We have so much to be grateful for every single day living the lives we live. Now I just have to figure out a way to teach that to my kids. I might show them the first class cabin as we walk through to cattle class and tell them that we will never sit in those seats to bring them down a peg. Or tell them the shop burned down.

suzi

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