Dealing with the Guilt of Privilege
Updated: May 19
Every single time I leave my abode, due to the social climate we reside in within this age, I have to deal with the fact that I will be judged negatively by some simply for my skin. It is what it is in that aspect. HOWEVER, I simply cannot ignore that fact that I, too, am wildly privileged.
Look, me, my parents, and my parents’ parents were all born in Jamaica. I feel it’s safe for me to say that a substantial quantity of the folks whom are born in Jamaica may call Jamaica (a third world country) their final resting place. Very many may never receive the chance to see any other parts of the world. But not me. I was jetted away from the island at the ripe age of two and have only been back twice since. I am not only an American citizen legally, but I’m a citizen by way of every social connection I’ve made the two-plus decades I’ve been here. And also if you could hear my accent, well… While I can understand it, I couldn’t speak Patois if it boxed me outside my head (no matter how much I wish I could). Seriously.
I was raised primarily in Arizona of all places—a suburb in the middle of the desert to be exact. I lived in a 5-bedroom, two-story house—with a pool—with dogs, bunnies and chickens from which we received our own eggs. I had a laptop-not just at home, but from the school I went to as well—so I had two. I had more clothes than my oftentimes lackadaisical self could stand to do laundry for. I had video games systems. I learned to drive when I was 15 and got my license on my 16th birthday along with a whole car to drive as well. I consistently had food to eat and remained healthily plump for it. What's more, to top it all off, I had and still have parents whom care for me unconditionally. I am as privileged as ever…
…But… I’m also sensitive. A luxury many cannot afford—among many other things. I’ve never had to walk miles for water. I’ve never had to share a bed. I’ve never had to beg for food. I’ve never had to hand wash my clothes or work a job at a young age to provide for my family.
I don’t know why things ended up this way. I don’t know why I have what I have, and why others could literally only dream of living my life… and I do sometimes feel guilty for it. Look, let me back up here to clear up a few misconceptions.
I’m not primarily speaking about Jamaica. Jamaica is a fruitful, lush, and enviable land of course. There are billions of people in hundreds of countries—including America—who were and are not as fortunate as I.
I’m trying to convey that I have had thousands of opportunities (biffed ones frankly) that seemingly less fortunate humans would have ran with.
I’m not saying that the people whom appear to me as less fortunate than me aren’t happy. Fortune and a Disney-set for a home doesn’t immediately equate to happiness. I’m currently less fortunate than Oprah—but I’m extremely content in my life.
It’s the HUMANS out there whom cannot afford a decent meal—who have to struggle every day to get out of bed, because some twisted soul decided to take advantage of them in a vulnerable state—those whom walk barefooted to provide for their families—those whom see no color in this world.
I feel guilty, because I want to help, but I simply do not know how… and a lot of the time, I truly cannot…
Don’t worry, this session isn’t all disheartening—I come bringing methods that I either would do if I were in a proper position to do so or have done. Hopefully some of these may assist you with your heart as well.
EDUCATE YOURSELF. Somehow you reached this moment in this post. What that shows me is not only can you read English, but you can also work an electronic device. Google’s search engine is free everywhere; it would literally cost you near nothing to do even a small amount of research to better understand a fellow human being and their adversities.
Extra points if you make the effort to ask an actual human being—whether in person or over the internet—what their experiences are/have been without interjecting your world view. Then, ask them what else you may be able to do to help their (or people like them) lives easier.
HELP WHEN & WHERE YOU CAN. Going out of your way to help someone less fortunate WHEN YOU CAN, can mean all the difference within someone’s time on this earth.
If, you have the ability and you find yourself in that sweet spot—able to actually seek out another human or a community in which is less fortunate than you—ACTUALLY GO THERE, and HELP WHEN & WHERE YOU CAN if you can.
Understand that, all in all, you’ll literally never be able to help EVERYBODY, but the little things you do, over time, will make an immense impact—and you are appreciated for it!
Honestly, a part of me truly believes that, like good ol’ Uncle Ben noted, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” When I come into a position in my life where I am able to give back in ANY way I can—because there is no "small" way—I will get that done.
Now, I know there’s someone out there rolling their eyes, getting hot and ready to comment about how shallow and excessive this article is. “First world problems—boo hoo!” To that, I say, “Yes, indeed ‘boo-hoo’ it is that you can’t see that simply because someone seems to have it all, doesn’t mean they do not suffer, within their own rites.”
Mantra: "I am not perfect, but I’m always getting better."
Go ahead and comment some other methods to help/deal with guilt below, ‘cause Lord knows I only discussed the tip of this iceberg.
Godspeed, good people!
Here’s some positive vibes for ya: Subscribing, liking, or sharing this post, helps me help more people as well, so much obliged!