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Privilege
#1
I thought it would be worthwhile to have a conversation about privilege outside one of the topical threads.

There are a lot of things that are privileges. Being aware of how you're privileged, or being asked to think about how you're privileged when others aren't, are not bad things. As humans almost all of us believe that our lived experiences is the same as other peoples', and that's very rarely the case. Even twins, raised together in the same house by the same parents can have very different lived experiences, and when we assume that the way we experience the world is or should be universal, we diminish the lived experiences of other people.

It's worth spending a few minutes just thinking about privilege without whatever connotations you've built on it from active discussions elsewhere (in news cycles, popular culture, etc) and just think about what life would be like without them. Being privileged isn't inherently wrong in any way, but it's important to recognize that other people aren't coming to the table with the same assumptions and expectations.
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#2
Thanks, Rob. For the purposes of the discussion, here is the relevant definition (from OED):
Quote:A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.
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#3
(06-05-2018, 03:09 PM)tomh009 Wrote: Thanks, Rob. For the purposes of the discussion, here is the relevant definition (from OED):
Quote:A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.

I think in this forum we're most likely focusing on "advantage".

So thanks for the definition.

If anyone wants to check out what's going on in Venezuela or places like Syria and North Korea, and do a good comparison to Donald Trumps "everyone's been unfair to the USA", perhaps we'll understand exactly what privilege is.

Should be interesting.
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#4
Wondered why this thread was here, but went into the ION thread afterwards and now understand.

Personally, I consider to be privileged just to be a citizen of this country. I have a privilege that my parents moved here when I was 3. I am privileged to have the job I have, and the income I earn. While my privilege in these regards are not more/less than the majority of my fellow Canadians, I certainly have more than a large portion of the world.

Forgot my cell phone charger.... 1st world problems.....

Privilage doesn't make me evil, but it makes me appreciate what I have.

My white privilege makes me aware of how non-Caucasians may react to a certain scenario.

Coke
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#5
I agree that being born in Canada is a privilege. Maybe even living here, though that's technically possible for a far greater number of people.

But personally I don't think having a job (or even a particular job) should be considered a privilege, unless there is something that prevents other people from having a similar job. Same with your phone charger. Smile
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#6
(06-06-2018, 12:45 PM)Coke6pk Wrote: Privilage doesn't make me evil, but it makes me appreciate what I have.

Good summary. For me the concept of privilege is mostly about being slower to say “why don’t those people just …”. It’s very easy to say that; much harder for somebody with a drug addiction to stop, a poor person to save money so they can buy reasonable size packages of toilet paper, a person without a car to make their medical appointments without fail, ….

There are also completely invalid invocations of privilege. I’ve heard of discussions something like this:

Person A: … [saying something about a related subject, probably gender- or race-related]

Person B: Check your privilege! [and pretty much no other counter-argument]

Here, Person B is 100% wrong, even if they are a black transgender lesbian drug addict on welfare with a disability (although in that case I would have some sympathy for them not being able to get it together enough to say something sensible). Simply being privileged in a particular situation does not make ones thoughts invalid or irrelevant; the privilege is something to be aware of in order to help listen more effectively to others.
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#7
(06-06-2018, 01:19 PM)tomh009 Wrote: I agree that being born in Canada is a privilege. Maybe even living here, though that's technically possible for a far greater number of people.

But personally I don't think having a job (or even a particular job) should be considered a privilege, unless there is something that prevents other people from having a similar job. Same with your phone charger. Smile

I very much think having my job (software developer) is a privilege, and absolutely the result of privilege while growing up. I'm 41, and we had a computer in the house for as long as I can remember. While not having many friends growing up wasn't a privilege, being able to spend my time learning about computers by having one to putz around on in the house certainly was. Being able to afford to go to college for computer science was a privilege. It's my personal opinion that there are thousands of great programmers in Waterloo, let alone the rest of the planet, who never had the opportunity to sit in front of a computer and invest a meaningful amount of time into learning to program.

It's similar with many other skills people learn through childhood. I had few opportunities to work on a car while growing up, that's not something my family did and I chose computer and music related electives during school instead of auto-related ones.

It's absolutely the case that people can teach themselves to program as adults or take advantage of different opportunities presented to them but having the opportunity as a child to try my hand at several different things and having the privilege of being able to focus on the ones I liked. To me, all that stuff working in my favour that other people don't get as an accident of the family they were born into is a privilege. I'd not be where I am today if not for that. 

Which isn't to say I wouldn't be successful or haven't worked. It just means that my path is different, and in many ways a lot smoother, than many other peoples'.
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#8
(06-06-2018, 03:05 PM)robdrimmie Wrote: I very much think having my job (software developer) is a privilege, and absolutely the result of privilege while growing up. I'm 41, and we had a computer in the house for as long as I can remember. While not having many friends growing up wasn't a privilege, being able to spend my time learning about computers by having one to putz around on in the house certainly was. Being able to afford to go to college for computer science was a privilege. It's my personal opinion that there are thousands of great programmers in Waterloo, let alone the rest of the planet, who never had the opportunity to sit in front of a computer and invest a meaningful amount of time into learning to program.

It's similar with many other skills people learn through childhood. I had few opportunities to work on a car while growing up, that's not something my family did and I chose computer and music related electives during school instead of auto-related ones.

It's absolutely the case that people can teach themselves to program as adults or take advantage of different opportunities presented to them but having the opportunity as a child to try my hand at several different things and having the privilege of being able to focus on the ones I liked. To me, all that stuff working in my favour that other people don't get as an accident of the family they were born into is a privilege. I'd not be where I am today if not for that. 

Which isn't to say I wouldn't be successful or haven't worked. It just means that my path is different, and in many ways a lot smoother, than many other peoples'.

Been 'privileged' enough to get jobs with the government (both Federal and local). I'm local now, and it's a huge privilege to have a good job with decent pay (government doesn't pay quite as well as private, as I was help-employed before and made more money) with great benefits and pension.

When I thought about things though, I also realize that as Canadians, we have a lot of 'rights' that many around the world don't have. Health care is one of them, but their are human rights that we enjoy as well, to choose a religion, or not choose, to choose a lifestyle, the right (some call it privilege) to earn a license and "drive safe" and keep that license, just by obeying some profound laws. We have a right to 14 years of education, at a minimum. We have the right to clean water. We have the right eat at clean restaurants, as we have health inspectors that go around to ensure our safety.

We can complain about our government, and do it quite viciously without being tossed into jail. Make fun of our leader? We get high-fives from our co-workers or friends. Make fun of our supreme leader in North Korea, we get 10 years hard labour.

I'll leave it at that, as there are a lot of perceived 'rights' that some 'feel' that we have but we actually don't...for example, and so I don't stir any pots here, we don't have the right/privilege to blast our music in our backyard beyond certain times. We don't have the right or privilege to smoke anywhere we want (luckily I don't smoke...).
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#9
I'm not sure I'd call something like a job a "privilege". I think people should definitely appreciate it, and acknowledge that there's some luck / factors out of their control that have gotten them to where they are even if it also required lots of hard work. I think the privilege in something like Rob's example is the experiences he had growing up that made it "easier" to get a tech job.

I don't think "Society" (in whatever form you want to think of it) should necessarily act on the results of privilege as much as act to address the root inequalities. So if we look at something like the lack of diversity in tech jobs the root privileges are often things like people's economic background and learning opportunities, conscious or unconscious bias in interview processes, conscious or unconscious discrimination in the workplace, etc. Those are the things that we should try to acknowledge and address. We shouldn't say "Let's hire equal numbers of X"* because that's treating the results of privilege and not the actual problem.

It feels to me like there's a subtle and important difference there.


* One caveat here is that I think diversity has actual quantifiable benefits for a business/organization. And so I think there are situations where it makes sense to choose person A over person B even if B is a better candidate in a vacuum if A brings more diversity. It doesn't even need to be about personal characteristics. If you've got a bunch of employees with backgrounds from the same big company or industry - it could easily make sense to bring in someone from a totally different background even if they're arguably "worse" in other ways.
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