I hate the “P” word

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?

A for Appreciation (Lens-Artists Photo Challenge)

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge for the week is sharing a photo(s) featuring a subject that begins with the letter “A”.

This week’s alphabet challenge is “Appreciation.

For the past several months at the hospital, we received an outpour of donations and thank you letters from the community. I work in patient relations and employee engagement, I manage these donations making sure all hospital staff gets something and is distributed equitably. It is not just people in scrubs who are affected by the pandemic — there are janitors who clean up public areas and patient rooms, lab workers who test patient samples for COVID-19, and clerks who interface with everybody. Then you also have the staff members in outpatient clinics. Though they may not deal with COVID patients directly they’ve been short on staff because staff have either transferred to work in the COVID units, called out sick, gone on leave, or been offered an early retirement. Everyone who works in a hospital plays a part, everyone is affected.

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and loved more than you’ll ever know.” — A.A. Milne