Written on the plane while traveling home:
In class a few weeks ago we spent some time talking about privilege. The main point was usually we don't recognize our privilege because we've never been without it.
Until then, I had never thought about being privileged or not privileged. I've just been me, it's just been my life, my experience. I haven't been privileged, only lucky. Or as my mom would say, I've been blessed. But maybe blessedly ignorant.
As I grow older I see the times in my life when my privilege has played it's cards for me, both for better and for worse. When the card is played for worse, I've never been in physical harm, and for that I feel blessed. When the card is played for better, I feel humbled.
The ignorance I've grown up with has been both a blessing and a curse.
School has been quite a help in removing my veil of ignorance. We talk about important topics in class, and then I have the opportunity to go out into the world and have experiences that make the things learned absolutely clear to me.
I have had interesting experiences this week. I navigated the metro, with a few pointers, and walked National Mall by myself. We walked home late through a shady neighborhood. I spent St. Patrick's Day festivities in the hands of an interpreter. I spent more than an afternoon where the color of my skin made me the one who was different.
I became acutely aware of my feelings when we spent time in different neighborhoods. The difference in Georgetown as compared to Trinidad, and Capitol Hill as compared to Georgetown. Being a visitor to the city, oddly enough I felt the most comfort on the Metro, which was no neighborhood at all and neither here nor there.
I have also realized that my feelings of being uncomfortable have been mostly nerves, usually showing themselves when I'm about to embark on something unknown. Now that the nerves are recognizable, it is becoming easier for me to tell the difference between feeling nervous and feeling fight or flight adrenaline. Obviously flight adrenaline causes me to alter my path, but if it's nerves I work it through.
Because fear is the WORST reason not to do something.
I'm on my way home now, thinking about school tomorrow and going back to work. Back to laundry, back to campus, back to my little corn dog who will be so anxious the second I walk in the door, but who I'm sure didn't miss me one bit while I was gone. Back to my quirky little city that is so predictable. Back to the mountains I love and the local brews I know so well.
And now as a good friend prepares for a trip to India, I'll go spend a fun evening out and about and totally in my comfort zone.
But, after experiencing something that was uncomfortable become comfortable, what does that even mean?