a painting of the author, the description of the blog, and his URL: rickkitagawa.com/blog

The Underprivileged Privileged

My family struggled with finances when I was growing up, and as a person of color, I often saw myself as underprivileged. My family has been directly affected by racism in terms of internment camps, loss of property, hate crimes, and of course being stared at when I walk into restaurants in white-majority cities. I gave up my dream of being an actor as a child as I never saw anyone besides martial artists on television who looked like me.

And yet, now I realize that I also grew up with my parents owning the home I grew up in and the fact that I was far from the first person in my family to go to college, I’m more on the privileged side than the underprivileged side. Add to that my cis-hetero male, abled-bodied, thin, neurotypical privilege, and I recently came to the conclusion that I’ve got a tremendous amount of privilege that many don’t have. 

It’s not easy to come to terms with the nature of privilege – that we often look at how we’re in the minority rather than in all the ways we’re in the minority. The fact that it’s faster to say all the ways I’m underprivileged than the ways I am privileged means it’s easier for me to tell a certain story about the pain of growing up looking very different than the dominant culture.

But that’s why privilege is so tricky – you don’t even realize all the ways you have it until you meet someone to whom those privileges don’t exist. And it feels unfair to have a light shown on how you may have had it easy when parts of your life have been so difficult. But if you’re reading this, it means you have access to the internet, LinkedIn, and a device that so many people in the world do not have access to. 

This doesn’t mean you need to feel guilty. But what it does mean is that we all need to recognize not only how we’ve been dealt an unfair hand, but also in what other games we’ve gotten advantages.

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