Society should rethink effects of privilege

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Society should rethink effects of privilege

Brett Hodges, Staff Columnist

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Everyone has an excuse. They were tired that day. They just weren’t cut out for it. The odds were stacked against them. The list goes on and on. In our American culture, excuses are rarely tolerated. Those who make excuses are looked down upon because winners don’t make excuses.

There is, however, one excuse that is not often looked down upon, but is rather propped up on a pedestal built by social justice. This excuse is, of course, the idea of privilege. Privilege can be defined as someone receiving preferential treatment due to their belonging to a certain group. The most common forms of privilege cited by those who hold this defeatist mentality are based primarily on race, gender and class. This is not to say that race, class or gender can’t give one an advantage at certain points in life, but rather that some people use the idea of not belonging to a privileged group as a defense against their own shortcomings.

Those blaming their failures solely on privilege need to hold themselves more accountable. A mentality of being underprivileged is a dangerous one to hold, as it effectively stunts a person’s growth. When every defeat is followed by an analysis of one’s own flaws, personal growth occurs, allowing the individual to move on and improve upon any weaknesses. However, when each and every failure is instead chalked up to somebody else succeeding due to their inherited traits controllable only by nature, not only is the process of bettering oneself halted, but the achievements of those individuals who possess privilege are demeaned.

It is possible that successful people in privileged groups are simply putting in more work to accomplish their goal. In both academia and the workforce, those who work the hardest will likely end up at the top. Others may have a head start, but you will find few career fields or academic settings headed only by those who are privileged. Without the basic idea that one can succeed and advance in whatever it is they set out to do, success is impossible.

The belief that only the privileged succeed leads to a grave, self-fulfilling prophecy wherein one fails repeatedly, blaming only external forces, rather than looking into all facets of the problem. Sometimes, the root of the problem is irreconcilable, and that’s OK. I can say that I lack a degree of privilege because Nick Saban is choosing to start Tua at quarterback over me, due to Tua being born naturally bigger and more athletic than me. I can also, however, look at the facts and realize that not only am I a skinny guy with next to no athletic ability, but Tua has spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours training to become the best quarterback in college football right now, while I instead spend my time complaining in The Crimson White.

The fact of the matter is that a person doesn’t succeed on privilege alone. Hard work, dedication and patience are all cornerstones of people who don’t just achieve, but people who acknowledge that despite whatever handicap they face, they will find a way to overcome it, and if the handicap truly is insurmountable that they will succeed in some other facet of life. Those people are the ones who are truly privileged, and we should call them what they are: Winners.