You've likely heard the term "privilege" being thrown around without exactly knowing what it means. Privilege, by definition, is "a right, immunity or benefit enjoyed only by one person beyond the advantages of most."
Basically, to have privilege is to have an advantage that is completely out of your control. There are many different types of privilege that people benefit from in many different ways. Everyone has some type of privilege going for him or her.
The harder part is accepting your privilege. Like it or not, your status in the world will help you get something you may not deserve. It will make your path easier, and in some cases, your privilege may blind you into thinking the benefits you gain from it are ones you deserve because you're somehow better, smarter or more deserving than other people.
It's important to understand our privileges in order to not only humble ourselves, but to also help others along the way who are starting at different points than we are due to their lack of privilege. There are many different types of privilege, and you likely benefit from more than one:
1. White Privilege
White privilege causes a lot of controversy, mostly because people don't truly understand what it means to have white privilege. All white people benefit from white privilege, no matter what other advantages or disadvantages they have in their lives.
White privilege doesn't necessarily mean getting special treatment or taking from another race because you are white. White privilege is actually a lot simpler than that.
White privilege is having band-aids or anything else of a "nude" color always match the color of your skin, ie. a white person's skin. In fact, company called Nubian Skin was created especially to create "nude" colors for other skin types. Check out their website here.
White privilege is turning on the television and seeing the majority people being from your race. White privilege is when Kylie Jenner is praised for wearing cornrows, while when Zendaya wears cornrows (which is naturally a part of her culture), she "smells like patchouli oil or weed.” That is white privilege.
It's not something you can control, but it's something you should be aware of if you have it. For a laugh, you can check out white people trying to get arrested on YouTube. Spoiler alert: They don't.
2. Socio-Economic Privilege
This is a more traditional type of privilege. This privilege has to do with how much money your family has, or how it has helped or improved your life.
Socio-economic privilege actually doesn't mean being super rich. It means you could afford things like going to summer camp or playing after-school sports. Socio-economic privilege means being able to afford to go to college, or being able to afford putting yourself in debt in order to go to college. It means being able to afford a full-time, unpaid internship.
There are a million different ways people benefit from their socio-economic status. But again, it's not your fault. The biggest problem with socio-economic status is people tend to misinterpret their advantage as something they did on their own.
The truth is, if you're a college graduate and your parents were also college graduates, your road to college was likely much easier. Although you may be doing the same work as others, your road to get there was probably considerably easier. That's something to remember before you assume you got to where you are on hard work and skill alone.
3. Christian Privilege
This is one of the most underrated privileges out there, but undoubtedly one of the most prevalent in American society. Christian privilege means the holidays your religion celebrates will always be realized. You will always have a day off from work or school on a Christian religious holiday.
This is not necessarily true for holidays practiced by other religions. Christian privilege means that in December, every store will be playing music that celebrates your religion and your holiday. Christian privilege means you will never be labeled a terrorist or targeted on an airplane.
Even more so, this privilege means that politicians most likely share your faith, thereby creating laws in your favor. Christian privilege is something many don't think about. Many don't even believe in it.
But you're more likely to be protected as a Christian than any other religion in America. Read more about Christian privilege here, and be more aware of how you treat people of other religions, as well as how people of other religions are treated in society.
4. Gender Privilege
Most gender privileges are given to males. These privileges are obvious, such as being paid more. Women can't even win on that front.
In fact, women who ask for more money are seen as demanding and less likely to be hired. However, the men who ask for more money are seen as assertive.
Females are almost always in what we call a "double-bind." This means that everything they do is wrong. For example, a woman who has a lot of sex is seen as a slut. Yet, a woman who has little sex is seen as a prude. A woman who doesn't speak much is too shy or submissive. However, a woman who expresses herself is too bossy.
Women never win.
5. Heterosexual Privilege
Heterosexual privilege is actually more heterosexual-cis-gendered privilege. If you don't fall on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, you benefit from enormous amounts of privilege.
You never have to worry about which bathroom you can or cannot use, and you never have to worry about whom you can marry. If you're heterosexual and cis-gendered, you can adopt a child with little to no difficulty. You also won't have to worry about being rejected by your friends, family or religion based on the person you love.
You will never have to "come out," and you will also never have worry about the law directly intruding on your personal life. A few years ago, you couldn't even be openly gay in the military. Society has come a long way, but still there are many privileges that aren't awarded to those on the LGBTQ+ spectrum.
Having privilege is nothing to be ashamed of, but it is something to be aware of.