As promised I will write about Asian American identity and the ways it has affected my life and how I’ve come to acknowledge my privilege.
The “P” word I am referring to is “privilege.” It started as this incredibly long post, but I decided to cut this up. I wanted to posit the question, what should one do when they’re told to “check their privilege?”
I have noticed throughout my 20s and 30s, I’ve been told to “check my privilege.” This feedback has been more frequent the older I got, even over the more “simple” things like me being comically frugal is considered a privilege. When people tell me to “check at my privilege,” I’m not quite sure what to do other than say “okay” and shrug it off. Should I also give you money and my degrees? Should I feel awful about myself every time I go into my office job that pays the bills? Should I feel bad about making healthier lifestyle choices (i.e. exercising, eating fruits and veggies, etc) because it’s an “expensive lifestyle?”
I am very well aware of my privilege and I want to use it to make the world a better place. I work in a large public hospital where we provide healthcare whether or not these patients carry insurance. We are also a hub where we do a bi-monthly food pantry feeding patients and community members experiencing food insecurity. At my work, I use it as an opportunity to teach aspiring healthcare workers the importance of patient advocacy. Care does not only happen within the four walls of a clinic, they should care about what happens to them outside too. Do these patients have access to hygiene products, affordable housing, healthy food, etc.?
I left my last job because I did not feel we did enough for the older adults living in affordable housing. We did a lot more for the older adults living in market rate housing and I found it incredibly frustrating because it conflicted with the organization’s mission.
Telling me to “check my privilege” is hardly, if at all, an action. I never understood it. Are they coming from a place where they want help or are they just being mean-spirited?