The Privilege Tree

Alright Whitey’s, we need to tone down the douche-baggery. For a long instant please hold off on commenting about Ferguson.  Lets direct our investigations away from Michael Brown’s actions leading up to his death and focus them in towards ourselves, country and culture.

Written in bold with a fancy font our Declaration of Independence lays on some heavy crowd gathering  nationalistic idiom about freedoms, prosperity, and equality for all…. This rhetoric, to many of us today is considered to be hailed like the words of God.  But without debate it was written at a time to empower rich white males, and no better way to do so then to empower the whites males all around you by creating a cultural and legal system to protect it. Hence, “White Privilege”. Meanwhile all the other citizens in this cultural stew of a country get to listen to political chest thumping speeches and hope for a future where they too may be awarded those same inalienable rights. Over the decades, civil unrest has been able to break down our immature youthful structure, but the foundations are still there. It may no longer be solely ‘White Privilege’ lets just call it ‘privilege’. The discussion of privilege today does not need to be a debate over its validity, it needs to be a reflection on our past and where we want the direction of our future to go. There are still healing wounds in our communities, even if some of our laws pretend to have made things right. In order to progress, we must continue taking cultural strides towards the prophesying words of our founding documents.

Nature affords us with an affinity of analogies to help us better understand life. So lets look at a tree and use it as an analogy for privilege. In the great lottery of birth we have no control over to whom and where we are born. The extremes in soil in which we are planted may be either a fertilized nourishment from a lineage of opportunity or as austere as a pain ridden wind swept sun-burnt desert. Somewhere between these geographical polarities we find our seeds are planted and left to grow. Using the basic biology of a tree I offer this comparative example.

Soil- This is the compost in which we grow up and all the benefits that came with it. In this hummus we find the advantages of privilege.

Trunk- This is us, our personal characteristics, foundation, personality, our core.

Foliage- This is how we receive the world’s nourishment and display its emotions.

Spirit- Our intangible light that fills us with faith, strength, confidence, purpose, compassion and understanding.

Given it is the gracious holiday season, fill out your tree. (In the accompanying picture I’ve shared my soil composition with you) Think hard about each section of the tree and what life would be like if you hadn’t had certain elements. If you came from a rich soil be thankful and gracious for it, share your soil with surrounding seeds less fortunate. Because after all, while you were studying to get straight A’s and practicing soccer, another young student may have been more concerned about receiving their next meal or if Dad would ever come home. Lets quit acting like we’ve individually carved our lives out of granite. Show compassion for the deep rooted generational pain in our inner cities, black neighborhoods, Indian reservations, immigrant communities and minority classes. On the other spectrum, if you came from the desert sands don’t let that be the excuse you carry through life. Seek out that intangible light that brings you an infinite amount of energy to overcome. Take pride from where you’ve come and shed your future leaves so that new soil will generate. We are beginning to  listen, understand, lets move forward together…..