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It all happened for me about 30 years ago Totul a nceput n urm cu 30 de ani cnd

when I was in graduate school, and a bunch eram la universitate i ntr-o bun zi ne-am
of graduate students got together one day adunat cu civa studeni i ne-am spus ..
and we said you know there's an explosion exist un amalgam de scrieri i reflecii n
of writing and thinking in feminist theory, but teoria feminist , dar nc niciun curs.,, Aa
there's no courses yet. So we did what c am fcut ceea ce orice student ar face
graduate students typically do in a situation ntr-o astfel de situaie. Ne-am spus : bun,
like that. We said, ok, let's have a study haidei s facem un grup de studiu. Vom citi
group. We'll read a text, we'll talk about it, un text, l vom discuta i vom organiza o cin
we'll have a potluck dinner. So every week, potlock. Aa c n fiecare sptmn eu i
11 women and me got together. We would 11femei ne adunam laolalt. Citeam un text
read some text in feminist theory and have a de teorie feminist i discutm pe acest
conversation about it. And during one of our subiect. i n timpul unei astfel de
conversation I witnessed an interaction that conversaii, am asistat la un schimb de
changed my life forever. It was a replici care mi-a schimbat viaa pentru
conversation between two women. One of totdeauna. Era o conversaie ntre dou
the women was white, and one was black. femei. Una era alb, iar cealalt era neagr.
And the white woman said- this is going to Femeia alb a spus- asta o sa sune foarte
sound very anachronistic now- the white anacronic acum - toate femeile se confrunt
woman said,All women face the same cu aceleai oprimare de gen. Toate femeile
oppression as women. All women are se regsesc ntr-o poziie similar n
similarly situated in patriarchy, and therefore patriarhat, i toate au un fel de solidaritate
all women have a kind of intuitive solidarity intuitiv sau feminin. Iar femeia neagr a
or sisterhood. And the black woman said ,I spus nu sunt aa de sigur. A vrea s te
am not so sure. Let me ask you a question. ntreb ceva. Aa c femeia alb se
So the black woman says to the white adreseaz femeii albe: cnd te trezeti
woman, when you wake up in the morning dimineaa i te priveti n oglind, ce vezi?
and you look in the mirror, what do you see? Femeia alb rspunse: vd o femeie. Iar
And the white woman said,I see a woman. femeia de culoare spuse: vezi tu, asta e
And the black woman said,You see, that's problema n cazul meu. Pentru c atunci
the problem for me. Because when I wake cnd m trezesc dimineaa i m uit n
up in the morning and I look in the mirror, oglind, spuse ea, vd o femeie neagr. n
she said, I see a black woman. To me race cazul meu, rasa e vizibil. Dar pentru tine , e
is visible. But to you, race is invisible. You invizibil. Tu nu o vezi. i apoi a spus ceva
don't see it. And then she said something cu adevrat cutremurtor. Aa funcioneaz
really startling. She saidthat's how privilege privilegiul. Privilegiul este invizibil celor care
works. Privilege is invisible to those who l dein. Este un lux a spune, celor albi
have it. It's a luxury, I will say to the white prezeni n aceast ncpere, s nu fie
people sitting in this room, not to have to nevoie s v gndii la ras n fiecare
think about race every split of second of our secund din viaa voastr. Privilegiul este
lives.Privilege is invisible to those who have invizibil celor care l dein. Reinei, eram
it. Now remember, I was the only man in this singurul brbat din grup, i cnd am asistat
group, so when I witnessed this I wentoh la scena asta, reacia mea a fost:o, nu! i
no. And somebody said,well what was that cineva a ntrebat: ce-i cu reacia asta? i am
reaction? And I said, well, when I wake up rspuns: cnd m trezesc dimineaa i m
in the morning and I look in the mirror, I see uit n oglind, vd o fiin uman. Sunt genul
a human being. I'm kind of the generic de persoana generic. Eu sunt un brbat alb
person. You know I'm a middle class white din clasa de mijloc. Nu aparin niciunei rase,
man. I have no race, no class, no gender. I'm clase sau gen. Sunt universal i
universally generalisable. So I like to think generalizabil. A vrea s cred c atunci am
that was the moment I became a middle realizat c sunt un brbat alb din clasa de
class white man, that class and race and mijloc, i c rasa, clasa social i genul nu
gender were not about other people, they erau atributele altor persoane, ci m priveau
were about me. I had to start thinking about direct. A trebuit s ncep s m gndesc la
them, and it had been privilege that had kept aceste lucruri, care rmseser invizibile
it invisible to me for so long. Now I wish I atta timp deoarece fusesem privilegiat. Mi-
could tell you, this story ends 30 years ago in a fi dorit s v spun c povestea a luat
the little discussion group, but I was sfrit acum 30 de ani n acel grup de
reminded of it quite recently at my university discuii, ns mi-a revenit n atenie destul de
where I teach. I have a colleague, and she recent la universitatea unde predau. Am o
and I both teach the sociology of gender coleg, amndoi predm cursul sociologia
course on alternate semesters. So she gives genului n semestre diferite. Ea este invitat
a guest lecture for me when I teach. I give a s conferenieze la cursul meu, iar eu sunt
lecture for her when she teaches. So I walk invitat s confereniez la cursul ei. Intru n
into her class to give a guest lecture, about clasa ei s in conferina, aproximativ 300 de
300 students in the room, and as I walk studeni n sal i imediat ce pesc nuntru
in,one of the students looks up and saysoh un student i ridic privirea i spune: o n
finally, an objective opinion. All that sfrit o prere obiectiv. ntregul semestru ,
semester, whenever my colleague opened De fiecare dat cnd colega mea rostea un
her mouth, what my students saw was a cuvnt, ceea studenii mei vedeau era o
woman. I mean, if were to say to my femeie. Adic, dac le-ai spune studenilor
students, there is structural inequality based mei n SUA exist o inegalitate structural
on gender in the United States, thy would pe baz de gen , ar rspunde normal c
say well of course you'd say that. You're a spunei asta. Suntei femeie, suntei
woman. You're biased. When I say it, they prtinitoare. Cnd eu spun aceleai lucru,
go wow, is that interesting. Is that going to reacia lor: WoW, ce interesant! Ni-l dai la
be on the test? How do you spell 'structural test? Cum se scrie structural? Sper c
? So I hope you can see, this is what nelegei cu toii aa arat obiectivismul.
objectivity looks like.

Privilege is invisible to those who have it. It is a luxury I will say to the
white people sitting in this room that do not to have to think about race every
split second of our lives. Privilege is invisible to those who have it.
In an ideal world, the only privileges would be those given to each individual by
nature: smarts, good health, physical prowess, etc. But in the real world, privileges are
handed out willy-nilly according to random neutral traits like gender and race, and irrelevant
traits like ones religious affiliations or economic status. Being conscious of these
manufactured differences is the first step to neutralizing their effects.
Think of a life situation in which youre disadvantaged. If youre really fortunate,
maybe the worst thing you can think of is your lack of athletic talent or something. Thats
okay; you can work with this. Now, imagine that sports is the only way youre allowed to earn
a living, and you suck at it. If you imagine it well enough, feelings of panic and frustration and
injustice at the system should start to form. This is called empathy. You may find it
uncomfortable at first; hang in there!
This may take some practice: dont give up!

Privilege is a form of invisible power. Sometimes privilege also provides us with

structural power in direct relationship with another. In the past, this form of privilege was
legalized and prevalent. For example, until not that long ago, men had the legal right to have
sex with their wives, and consent was not necessary. Such forms of formal privilege have
largely been removed, because the official sanctioning of privilege is no longer socially

As a result, in recent decades the structural nature of privilege is much more invisible
and indirect. As a person with fairly light skin, for example, I have access to untold number of
privileges that are mine to enjoy and which are not available to people with darker skin. I
can, as a very simple example, go in and out of stores without having security officers look at
my movements. If I stand in the street and wave a taxi, its likely to stop for me. If I break the
law, I am likely to get a lighter sentence than a person who belongs to other groups.

Those of us with privilege are often unaware of the legal or social norms that give us
access to such resources simply by virtue of being members of a certain group, without any
particular action or even awareness on our part. Its easy to assume that everyone would
have the same access, or to not even think about it at all. Even when our privilege provides
us direct individual advantage at the direct expense of another individual, the direct
relationship may be hidden under socially sanctioned norms such as individual merit which
replace the more explicit forms of the past. A particularly acute example of such
relationships occurs both in the educational system and in the workplace.

And so it is that these forms of privilege are largely invisible to those of us who have
them unless we take proactive action to learn about them. Those without such access, on
the other hand, are usually acutely aware of their lack of access. This creates a gap in
experience which is usually excruciating for members of both groups.