Check Your Privilege

I read a post from a man named Asim Qureshi, CEO of Jibble (an employee time clock app):

“Several years ago, I encourage a friend to take more risks in his career. He responded, “I’m supporting my parents, sibling, my wife and kids. I mess up, we’re out in the street.” I didn’t encourage him again. Now, over the years, many have told me that they really respect as I gave up a fantastic career to pursue my dream of becoming an entrepreneur. The reality is that it was nothing more than privilege at playunlike many, including my friend, I had the luxury of being able to fail. I also had a wife that encourage me to go for it. Risks aren’t as risky for those that can afford to take them—heroism is often nothing more than the omission of details.”

I would like to add a comment from a man named John David Co on Facebook:

This is just like all those posts saying that the rich work smart while the poor work hard. Most people who cannot take chances and experiment with something new. They are too busy making ends meet to devote time or effort to anything else. For example, who is saying that, for example, Jeff Bezos used to be broke, he wasn’t really broke. He got his parents to invest $250,000 in Amazon when it was starting out. That’s a heck of a safety net, so I’m pretty sure he wasn’t really scared of failing. Those who are blessed or privileged need to stop making it seem like it is other’s people’s choice of fault that they are poor. For some that might be true. But for the vast majority, it is just fortunate that the deck is stacked against them from the very start.”

Honestly, I just strongly agree with everything that they say. My mom is an agent of a popular life investment company. And I just cringe whenever they say things such as “it’s the poor’s fault that they are poort (in literal sense) and it our job to change their minds!!” like some hero complex of the rich. They romanticize their current members “rag to riches” story wherein they did not actually start from “rag”. They have the privilege to save a lot of money just by cutting down to buying their wants and that’s how they got to investing. But a lot of people do not have that kind of privilege. The money that they earn is literally enough for them to make ends meet. Oftentimes, they do not even have the money to buy any of their wants. Hence, they can’t risk putting their money o investing because they literally don’t have any safety net like Jeff Bezos had for Amazon.

Also, there are existing systems that continue to exploit workers. They work hard for eight hours, sometimes dealing with another job, and still, they only make barely enough money to cover the rent, food, and utilities.

I consider myself a privileged one. I would not have the luxury to understand, talk, and be able to write in English if it weren’t for my privilege. I studied in an English-speaking private school in elementary and when I was younger, my dad would buy books for me and my siblings to read. Furthermore, we had the money to install an internet connection in our house and that’s when I had larger resources. I read so much up until now because of that. I moved to a public high school after graduating and that is where I noticed that my classmates cannot easily comprehend instructions written in English (most of our textbooks were in English). Like I previously mentioned, I had the privilege of reading English books when I was younger.

By being aware of my privilege, I became empathetic about their situation and whenever they have problems in understanding, I kindly explain it to them (but honestly, I still have a hard time comprehending a lot of things too so I still need to learn more). My point here is I got a head start because of my privilege. If we understand and became aware that a lot of us are just privileged that is why we got to where we are right now, we would find that the problem is not in the person but in the existing social and political systems that continue to oppress the poor. We would be having more empathetic conversations and continue to improve the world. A reminder that if you do not even think about it then it means you are privileged enough to not even worry about it.

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Claire Hernandez

I'm Claire, a college student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. I write about my journey, growth, and how design influences the behaviour of the users. Moreover, I am fascinated about the psychology of space, hence you can see me citing research studies in my posts. Email: hernandezanaclaire@gmail.com

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