A Year of Grateful Privilege – February 2017

Ok, so February is done and dusted in my Year of Grateful Privilege. (If you’re new to my Year of Grateful Privilege, here’s the post where I explain what this is all about.)

A highlight

I’ve chosen my favourite post from the month, because it was an insanely powerful moment. The picture is above, and for everyone with normal eyesight, here’s the caption:

“Disembarked the bus this morning with 2 Aboriginal ladies and their 2 little ones. They looked confused and weren’t speaking in English, so I asked if I could help with directions. They wanted to get to a place that would have been a good 30 min walk in the 40 degree heat.

We arrived at me booking a taxi, which I happily did. But the taxi was driving around to find us (it was looking on the wrong side of the road) so we tried to flag other taxis down too. A taxi indicated it was pulling over, slowed down and almost like it was at the same moment the driver saw the passengers – it sped off again.

First thing that sprung to mind was ‘did that just happen because of our group’s blackness?’ And there it is – the epitome of white privilege – I have never had to wonder if a taxi driver wouldn’t serve me because of my skin colour.

The taxi I booked found us eventually and the family got off to their destination – so yay for that. Boo for the fact that in only 10 minutes of time with them, the contrast of our daily existence was so starkly highlighted.”

A lowlight

I had a few dark days when I just couldn’t muster up the energy to really say much. And that was flipping distressing realising that in order to be aware of my privilege, and to empathise with the impacts of racism on other lives, that I have to actively think about it. Racism is an in-your-face daily experience, it can’t be escaped. Privilege is like oxygen – it’s just everywhere, and it’s only by knowing it’s power that you can see its existence. If you didn’t understand the properties of oxygen and how it interacts with the environment, you could just blissfully live not knowing oxygen existed. I know oxygen/privilege exists, and yet I can just so easily go about my daily life without having to give it a second thought. That is a pretty depressing thought when you compare it to the realities of POC. It just feels so unjust.

What would I like to do next?

It’s time to get lighter and brighter. Being aware of privilege doesn’t have to mean a life of serious doom and gloom. As I wrote in a recent post:

“Being WOKE doesn’t require being broke when it comes to the simple pleasures in life. I’m just about to round out month 2 of my year of grateful privilege and there’s no way I can survive this year if it’s all about being solemn, serious and self-flagellation (not a dirty word haha!) There’s joy in being woke, because the more I work to shake my head out of the sand, yes, I am seeing the shadows but also so much light”

So in March, I am marching TOWARDS the light. I want to find the humour. I want to start the party. I want to revel in the joy of being woke.

Please do come and follow me at @sarahmillerau – I would love to see you there!

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A Year of Grateful Privilege – January 2017

At the start of 2017, I was walking and thinking about how good my life was (I think it was that holiday euphoria) – and it occurred to me that so much of what I’m grateful comes to me out of privilege – whether that be the privilege of having white skin, or being part of the dominant culture.

So I started #ayearofgratefulprivilege – a little Instagram project to make the effort to express gratitude each day for things that would normally slide by – the stuff that underpins so much of my daily existence.

My hope was to build my own awareness of the unique challenges facing those who are disadvantaged by systematic racism. Also, I hoped it would help me to become a better HR professional, and design student – but more importantly – a better wife and mother in my interracial, interreligious, and all things inter marriage!

Well it’s February – so that’s 1 month down and 11 more to go in my year of grateful privilege.

What have I learnt so far?

There are great resources out there – so my ignorance definitely was not for a lack of information being available to me.

In fact, most of my awakening to white privilege was through experiencing life with my significant other who is not white. It was things like him getting pulled aside at airports when we were walking together – why just him? Or how service staff would suddenly become far more pleasant when they realised I was with him. This was what twigged me to it, but it’s definitely stuff I could have learnt about without having to experience it!

What’s stuck with me the most?

This quote from this article:

“You should know that … It’s not the job of those who are disadvantaged by white privilege to calmly educate white people about it.”

This certainly put a fire in my belly to keep going with the project.

Weirdest thing that’s happened?

Being asked if Adelaide is super racist because of my observations when I’m going about my daily life. Um, no. Adelaide is in fact far less overtly racist than Singapore, for instance. But of course it will sound racist if I’m talking about things that most people would usually ignore.

Best thing that’s happened?

Really awesome conversations that probably wouldn’t have happened before, because people didn’t really know that I was interested in this stuff.

What would I like to do next?

Keep posting every day and just see what comes up. An interesting side effect has been how finely tuned my spidey-sense is getting to interactions between people. I am keen to see what things I’m going to observe next that I would normally just ignore.

Please do come and follow me at @sarahmillerau – I would love to see you there!

 

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