The reason why it’s important to understand privilege is because when we take it for granted, we end up not appreciating what we have and we forget that others never got it. This is the kind of invisible privilege that puts us ahead without us even knowing that we had an advantage.
It is such a blessing to have a heritage you can be proud of, that you can celebrate and share. Our past history can be a source of pride or shame. But history is not something we can take credit for… what we end up with is gotten off the work and mistakes of others in the past.
Heritage Privilege involves multipliers of privilege. Like education and career. Like land and wealth. Like language and social acceptance. Like healthy family and mental health. Correlation does not equal causation, but in a society that celebrates meritocracy, we often celebrate achievement as if the winner did it all themselves through talent, skill and hard work. While this is a great inspiring narrative, it doesn’t take into account all the other people who also had the same talent and skill, who worked just as hard or harder.
When your country presents heritage videos celebrating the nation’s history, and your ancestors’ part was… well, either as the loser, the victim, or the slave, there’s a certain amount of mental imbalance and intergenerational trauma that comes with that, while others can feel pride that their ancestors were the visionaries, the builders, or the landowners.
It is so important for us to be aware of and appreciate our privilege and then be understanding when others would like to enjoy it too. This wonderful short film from Singapore’s National Heritage Board illustrates this beautifully.
You’re so lucky, you know.
Let’s learn from each other and learn to appreciate our own privilege.