This is a brief entry but I have to get it out all the same.
Privilege is a thorny subject. Bringing it up tends to lead to a denial of it by all involved. Nobody ever wants to admit that they have it. After all, if they have privilege, they have to admit their position in life isn’t entirely due to their own merits. It means accepting that others are better than us and society is unfair, two ideas Americans can’t abide.
Despite the constant denials, privilege is of course real. That’s a fact I’ve thought about over the last few days in the aftermath of my essay on Steve Silberman. I pointed out in it that he has the privilege of being neurotypical which makes it more likely others will listen to him. I called this issue with the mass media and society at large out and I was right to do so. For this I gained quite a bit of attention which profoundly moved me.
However it was rightly pointed out to me by @Erabrand that I myself have privilege. After all others have tried to speak up on the media’s preference for NT translators instead of our own voices and they haven’t been heard like I have been. Others are dismissed as having a chip on their shoulder due to other master statuses such as gender or race. I’m lucky to fit the classifications society views as “right.”
She’s not wrong. I’m a cisgender, middle class white male with a college degree, a respectable job, and a family. I represent a positive face for autism so when I see something wrong, I’m coming at it from an almost purely autistic point of view. I can’t be questioned as having some other agenda. This isn’t my fault, of course. I have nothing to apologize for in my life and I won’t do that.
What it does mean is I have to be aware of how my standing affects my views. When others come from a perspective that isn’t mine, I can’t dismiss it because it’s not covalent with my life experiences. I have to understand that they come from their own reality and it deserves to be heard. That means that if I’m aware there are other voices worth hearing, I must amplify them. I have a platform I can use to boost others. It’s my moral duty to use it.
It’s perfectly okay to admit this and to help others. Doing so doesn’t undermine the validity of our arguments. After all, if our arguments are truly the best, wouldn’t we rather they were proven in a fair battlefield of thought? Admitting privilege and listening to others is at least a first step in that direction.