Why Don’t You Check “Your” Privilege?”

A common observation of mine is that those who declare that others need to “check their privilege” are engaging in projection; they are the most privileged individuals you’re likely to run across.

Case in point: I was driving in my neighborhood today and ended up behind some lady in a brand new Honda Civic. Neatly slapped onto the back of the car’s rear bumper was a “Check your privilege” sticker, right beside a “I love Obamacare” sticker.

Just to res-hash: she’s driving a car that is worth, at minimum, $19,000.

Yet I, the one driving a 20-year-old car with 200,000+ miles on it, who has to do much of my own maintenance to avoid expensive repairs, need to check my privilege. Maybe if I was hearing this from a starving kid from Zimbabwe suffering from dysentery, not some woman dressed to kill and driving a freakin’ brand new car. She sure isn’t starving (side note: she also didn’t have the best navigational skills).

Someone might dare to suggest she may have earned the money to buy the car, but doesn’t that miss the point? She’s announcing that every unfortunate person stuck behind her has to check their privilege, meaning she presumes you have it.

My question is; has she checked hers? Why am I supposed to assume she hasn’t had a privileged life, that she started out in the worst environment possible and earned everything she owned by herself? Why must I assume the best of her, especially when she refuses to do the same?

Besides, if she had earned it through sheer hard work, do you really think she’d be using it as free advertisement for Obamacare?

Unlikely.

The only thing more insulting than being told to check my privilege is being told to do so by someone who obviously is more privileged than I. The only thing I do when I hear someone say this to me is “check” out of the conversation and try to avoid screaming at them about how daddy gave them a free ride through their four years at a private college to learn how oppressed they are while “privileged” individuals like myself got to work unpleasant minimum wage jobs and sleep in non-heated shacks in order to graduate debt free from a public university.

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