You’ve heard the term. Those with any interest in race relations are familiar with how I am using the word privilege. There could, are, and will be many a dissertation on this subject. But today I am writing a small moment of my life. Today I read a simple Face Book post that made me confront my privilege.
Kristen, a wonderful young woman who is a friend of my daughter, and who lived with us for a time, shared an article on FB. She posted the news of the assassination of Berta Caceras in Honduras. Berta Caceras is an internationally recognized activist for indigenous rights and the environment. She worked to oppose construction of a dam in her region of Honduras. After years of threats she was shot in a home where she was visiting.
How does this relate to me? First of all, I wouldn’t have even seen this news if not for a personal connection (though it was reported in the NY Times.) We can ask ourselves if that is right. But it relates to me mostly because my own daughter- Beth- is an activist who works on indigenous rights and the environment. She has worked in Guatemala and now lives in Honduras as a researcher. She travels in remote regions and asks tough questions and makes films. News like this sends a desperate cold chill through me.
But I have one very large consolation. My daughter is not indigenous. And she is not Hispanic. She is tall, blond, American and thus- extremely privileged. She has a far greater level of protection in her work in dangerous places and situations than her compadres.
I still fear for my girl. I simultaneously rant at the injustice of this privilege and yet take a mother’s grateful consolation in it. Because that’s how privilege is- you say, well, it sucks for them but I am so glad we are all okay.
Even as our world gets larger and more inclusive, as mine has through meeting my daughter’s friends and visiting their countries and caring about their work. You say, I don’t know what I can do. You say, it is far away and I don’t really understand it. Well, sometimes it comes closer. And I get closer to saying, this is my problem too and somehow I need to find a way to show solidarity. Somehow I need to shed some of the ignorance and comfort of privilege and work with others for justice.