As yogis, we are continuously encouraged to practice gratitude for the present – for what we have – whether it’s abundance, or prosperity, or our privileges. But when it comes to the sticky socio-economic categories that delineate racial and social class, the word “privilege” takes on a whole different meaning.
Racial “privilege” is not something to shy away from, suggests Michael Skolnik, the wildly entertaining political director for Russell Simmons. In this Speakeasy, he shares his own tale of realizing – at 14 years old – that he had “won the lottery” by scoring a trifecta of conditions: white, male, American.
With equal parts hilarity and honesty, he discusses:
- the odd assumption of guilt that white people take on having been “born lucky,” while comparing it to the fact that no one ever feels guilty when they win at the roulette table
- the significance of the Obamas having the family of a murdered black girl sit next to the first lady at the State of the Union Address
- the shift from unnamed black, murdered children toward the naming of slain black children
- how acknowledging identities can be the impetus toward giving equal weight, respect and compassion to victims of any race, and hopefully move to a kinder world where mutual brutality doesn’t exist in the policing of a population.
“White privilege is not just about the hand you were dealt and how you’re going to play that hand — it’s a big part — but white privilege is also about recognizing those civil rights that we take for granted.”
He concludes, that we– as yogis – should take just a small amout of the copious energy that we as a community have, and devote it to fighting for the rights of those who don’t have the rights that we take for granted. Because, if we do not, those rights are worthless to us.