Hopefully an Apt Metaphor

What would you rather be: broke or in debt?  Think about it long and hard, and don’t get into the ‘well is it good debt or bad debt’ debate.  It’s debt, it may be necessary, but it’s really never good.  Right?

Now think about what that means on a number level.  Broke means you have $0 (or pretty damn close).  Debt means you owe money, which means you’re negative.  Are we all set on this?

Ok, so the reason I bring up debt vs broke, is that I’ve been seeing a lot of stupid shit about “privilege” all over the internet.  Whether it’s “white privilege” or “male privilege” there are a lot of people who think these aren’t things.

“Nothing was given to me!”  “I had no advantages because I was white!”  We’ve heard all of these, and at face value, they can make sense.  The problem is, that these arguments really only hold up when there isn’t an opposing argument.  Just like being broke sounds bad, until you realize at least you don’t owe money.

“Privilege” is essentially being born broke.  You don’t necessarily have any property/money/political power or anything that will help you to succeed in life, you are starting from nothing.  So it seems natural to say “I had no advantages,” but what you didn’t have was disadvantages, and this is where the other side fills in the rest of the picture.

Being born without “privilege” is essentially being born into debt.  Not literally obviously, hopefully no one is being born into an actual place of debt, but the point is that there are specific disadvantages that come with birth for certain groups of people.  If you’re African American you’re more likely to be incarcerated, to be suspected of crime, followed in stores, the list unfortunately goes on.  If you’re a woman, you’re more likely to be harassed, or assaulted, or condescended to, or not be taken seriously in the work place.  There are disadvantages that come with being part of the LGBTQ community, or non-Christian, other races or ethnicities.  Those disadvantages are the equivalent of debt in this metaphor.  They have to work harder to get to “broke.”

I’m sure some will read this, and think those disadvantages I listed are incorrect, or inflated, or exaggerated.  Specifically the ideas of incarceration rates have been pointed out “well, if you do something wrong, you go to jail,” and other similar statements have been said to me, and my question is this: “how many times have you broken laws?”  Because I have broken laws, and I’ve never gone to jail.  Hell, I’ve been confronted by police while breaking laws, and never gone to jail.  It’s one of my least favorite things about people is that everyone wants law and order, but they like to steal movies, or do recreational drugs, or drive at excessive speeds.  There are very few people whom, I meet, who if they tell me they don’t break the law, I actually believe.  Yet we’re always ok with someone else paying the price for their actions.  This is a form of privilege.

The same idea kind of goes for the other examples that I gave of disadvantages, except that I feel like we’ve all heard the arguments against them.  We know that if a woman is assertive she’s called a bitch, and if a man’s assertive he’s respected for it.  We know if a woman sleeps with multiple people she’s called a slut, and a man is “sewing his wild oats” or whatever bullshit you want to call it.  We all know that the people telling gay people they shouldn’t be able to get married because of the “sanctity of marriage” tend to be on their third sacred marriage.  Or that the people who protest most about the deviance of homosexuality, or transgender identity tend to be significantly deviant.  Despite doing very little to actually discredit these things, or to make positive change, we all seem to know this stuff, that’s why I go into more depth on the “well if you break the law you should be punished” argument.

So which would you rather be?  Broke or in debt?  Be honest now.

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