Generalization and privilege go hand in hand

Is it ever acceptable to look at a someone and make judgments about who they are and what their life has been like based on superficial characteristics like gender, sexual orientation or skin color?
Privilege is a hot-button word these days. White privilege, straight privilege, cis privilege, there’s always someone who’s quick to throw out the term privilege. White people allegedly have some special bonuses in life for being white.

Not only is privilege a highly questionable concept, but it is being used to excuse sexism, racism, bigotry, and the stereotyping of individuals. Can women be sexist? Can a person of color be racist? A picture of a textbook has been floating around the Internet that claims no, they can’t, because they do not have  privilege and power.

At the point that misandry and racism is excused, warning bells start going off. What happened? When did it become acceptable to defend sexism?

Any time the individual is ignored and judgments are made about them as an individual just based on some of their characteristics, that person’s individualism is destroyed and they become a faceless statistic. Life isn’t easy for anybody. Everybody has heartbreak, suffers oppression and needs to work hard to overcome the circumstances life has given them.

Every single person is unique and different, and there’s absolutely nothing anybody can say about their life or who they are based on gender and skin color. It is equally as wrong to talk about stereotypes when it comes to people of color as it does to people of whiteness. It is equally as wrong to come to any conclusion about someone’s life or who they are simply because they are gay or trans as it is to decide who someone is and what they have been through because they are heterosexual or cisgendered.

There are hundreds of ways one can commit microagressions against a minority, but it’s not a microagression to decide that since someone is part of a majority, their life must have had certain characteristics?

While there is disparity between groups when it comes to things like crime, education, and other socioeconomic statistics, simply chalking it all up as privilege is a lazy way to not examine tough issues.

An individual’s successes or failures cannot be attributed to their skin color or sexual orientation in any way. Talking about a person of color, saying they only got a job because of affirmative action is just as racist as deciding white people have some special leg up.

One of the most puzzling aspects about privilege is the assertion that individuals with privilege are often unaware of their privilege and cannot perceive their own privilege. By that logic, how can any minority group claim not to have privilege? If privilege can only be perceived by another, then no individual has any foundation to say that they do not have privilege.

Majority groups don’t automatically get bonuses on college applications.When white individuals are killed by cops, nobody holds marches for white lives, there is no Twitter hashtag to claim that white lives matter. In fact, in December 2014, the president of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts apologized for writing an email titled “All lives matter.” Numerous students complained, calling it racist and minimizing “the anti-blackness of this current situation.”

Is it really too much to ask to strive for equality? To treat everybody the same, and not erase the individual in favor of race or sexual orientation? Claiming that all inequality is simple privilege will never solve any problems. After all, it was deciding that certain groups all had certain characteristics that is the cause for some of the most destructive events in history. Religious wars, slavery, sexism, all stemmed from the belief that certain classifications of individuals were inherently different.

Racism is racism and sexism is sexism. Doesn’t matter who the parties are, the individual must be respected and cherished for who they are. Privilege is not a legitimate means to marginalize and diminish anybody, ever.

Editor’s note – See Opposing opinion piece