We all know that privilege is a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit. It is advantage, or favor attached specifically to a position or an office. It is unearned access to resources and special treatment.
Obviously the word has been used a lot recently and it occurred to me that in general we accept it as a given in certain situations without challenge.
I cannot tell you how many times through the years when I have purchased a large item, let’s say a car or when I have gone to have said car repaired that someone asks me, “Did you wear your collar?” The assumption of course is that to wear a clerical collar would automatically put me in a position of “privilege.” In some situations it might, and in days gone by it probably did because society once had greater respect for clergy, but my point is to say, no I do not wear a clerical collar to buy a car, a computer, a house or any other item in order to gain some special privilege.
The special privilege I do use it for is quicker access to hospital rooms and hospital parking spaces. Beyond that I think I draw the line. I mention it however, because when people ask the question it is pretty much to say they think it would be perfectly okay for me to do so. Others might be hoping for a great story about the time I got a great deal from a travel agent or at a dealership. Well, I hate to disappoint, there is no story, only the truth that I cannot fully comprehend what people of color are going through because I have the privilege not to need to.
My goal then is to support my sisters and brothers of color and to recognize what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. My goal is for people of color no longer to need to worry about their safety or their lack of privilege in our society.
God of Heaven and Earth,
you created the one human family
and endowed each person with great dignity.
Aid us, we pray, in overcoming the sin of racism.
Grant us your grace in eliminating this blight
from our hearts, our communities,
our social and civil institutions.
Fill our hearts with love for you and our neighbor
so that we may work with you
in healing our land from racial injustice.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
[from a Prayer Service for Racial Healing in our Land, by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops]
The Rev. Ellen Meissgeier