Corona Chronicles: Privilege

Usually when I think of privilege, I think of other people and their social freedoms. You know…white, male, etc. But this pandemic has forced me to consider my and my family’s own privilege.

photo of woman looking on computer
Photo by Retha Ferguson on Pexels.com

When Desi’s school district first announced classes would be online and when Dwight found out he’d be working from home, he immediately went to Office Depot and purchased two things: a lap desk for our daughter and a range extender for the home because neither of us can afford to have slow internet.

When I received a parent survey asking about access, I had to take a good look at ourselves.

  • cell phones (3)
  • MacBooks (2)
  • tablets (2)
  • work laptop (1)

We have more than enough access.

When my job asked how quickly I could begin teaching online, the answer was simple…immediately. Eighty percent of my classes were already online and the one that wasn’t was previously set up for online learning because it’s hybrid.

woman in gray sweater using laptop beside glass window
Photo by bongkarn thanyakij on Pexels.com

As I listened to friends who live in New York and bloggers from the same area, I realize space is a privilege. Our home isn’t large, but we have separate rooms from which to work. Our spare bedroom is set up for me to grade or virtually meet privately with students. My teenage daughter is comfy logging on to Google Classroom from her bed. And Dwight has joked that the entire downstairs is his office. Even when I want to “get out,” I don’t have to leave the house. I can sit on our screened-in patio and eat meals and write.

That leads me to another privilege: location. We live in Florida. Unlike family members, who are in Illinois, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, I’ve been able to work out in my driveway, take bike rides, and practice yoga (on the patio). The weather’s been between the 70s and 90s. I don’t have cabin fever.

Though circumstances are sad, I’m grateful our daughter is a senior. I won’t have to worry about what the school district is doing in the fall. Stay online or don’t stay online, both of our daughters’ K-12 education is complete. I only halfway feel this way; online education for the nation is not a great idea for a host of reasons. But see how easy it is to slip into a self-centered perspective?

I’m thankful my husband and I have occupations we can still do from home and that I have a thriving business that’s kept me occupied with editing dissertations and independent novels throughout this pandemic. *We’re not worried about finances.

Initially, people were asking what’s changed or what have I learned from these times. And for a minute, my answer was nothing because I’d already adjusted my life according to what I’d determine is right for me.

As I think long and hard, my answer is still nothing. But a few ideas have been reinforced.

perspective_kegarlandIt’s always important to acknowledge our specific privileges and then consider life from others’ perspectives as a way to break out of our bubbles and gain diverse understandings. Some people are a little more worried than I am because they’ve had to figure out how to make life work, not make adjustments…literally learn how to do life. They’re waiting on their government-funded stimulus checks so they can eat and pay bills.

Others are a little more whimsical because their local news reports sound different and their government restrictions are few. For example, an IG follower in Brisbane posted a photo of herself getting a haircut…at a salon. Someone in California would probably shudder to think of committing what they would view as a socially irresponsible act right now.

Think about life from another person’s perspective. An alternate point of view may lead to a shift in empathy, thus opening a space for other things, like dialogue, grace, or service. And without sounding too preachy, I think it’s worth reminding that these traits are important not just now, but always.

*Oh, and about those finances…privilege has also allowed me to give more. Because I’m not driving anywhere, I’m saving on gas. Because we’re eating out less and spending fewer dollars on entertainment, I’ve watched my discretionary funds grow. With the money I’ve saved, I’ve been able to be of service to my alma maters and to a few family members, and for that I’m grateful.

In what ways are you privileged these days?

4/9/20

~kg

26 thoughts on “Corona Chronicles: Privilege

  1. I’m always grateful when people write about privilege in whatever form it comes. While my husband and I have struggled in so many ways before the virus hit, and losing my business because of this hasn’t helped either, this has made me think of the things that I am extraordinarily grateful for. For one, I’m grateful that I took drastic measures when my business was successful to pay off all of my debt minus my mortgage. Two, my husband and I moved from our postage stamp size house and lot in the city out to 5 acres in the country 2 years ago, something that has proven to be a huge blessing with shelter at home orders. And finally because the bills are only limited to our mortgage and utilities, when my business disappeared in March, my husband’s grocery store paycheck will still support us, albeit much more modestly. There are always things we could feel sorry for ourselves about but when you realize how much more others are struggling, there’s no reason to truly complain. And on that note, it means those of us who are privileged enough to still be able to pay our bills need to look outside ourselves and see where we can best be of service to others. And vote.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love hearing stories like this because it almost affirms that we always know what’s best for ourselves, if we just listen and act accordingly. Like, living on 5 acres as opposed to the city is THE BEST option right now for you two.

      Anywho, I agree. There is always something for which to be grateful, and we usually don’t have to look too far to know what it is 😉

      Like

  2. Honestly, given that I live in NYC, I’m just privileged to be healthy and have a steady job that’s in no danger of being cut. Those things may sound basic to some, but considering the loss of life here, those two things are bigger than many may ever appreciate.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post, Kathy.

    I told my students at our last f2f class that the inequality in this country is going to come into sharp relief, and it certainly has. I think about my privilege a lot because a lot of our conversations at work have been about supporting our students who don’t have all the things they need to do remote instruction: internet, laptops, and food.

    I also think about it a lot because my daughter doesn’t have to work so she doesn’t have to risk exposure. Any other time I would be pressing her out to get a job and now I’m just like, “Nope, just sit on the couch, it’s fine.” Not to mention the fact that she has a safe home to be in, which I know isn’t the case for many college students who had to go home early.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Americans like to believe that we don’t have a caste system, and instead have this free-will pull yourself up nonsense. I hope this situation, in some way, has shown somebody that we are not all equal and do not equally exist.

      I hope this makes sense.

      Thanks also for adding about your daughter. I have a student who had to return to his parents’ house and was immediately made to “go to work.” He’s been working SIXTY hours a week, in addition to finishing this semester :-/

      Like

      1. Oh no, that poor kid! Geez.

        I hope so too. The last Great Depression led to some awesome social programs. I hope we’re able to get leaders in office this election cycle who can do the same.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Same as your family. My husband and I both have jobs still, though he has to physically go to work while I telecommute. We have food, plenty of space, our health (fingers crossed). We truly are privileged.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. There are so many different types of privilege, and this pandemic has shed light on many of them. Our household is like yours, in that my husband is still able to work so we haven’t taken a hit in income. And although he wears me out, I am privileged to be able to provide child-care for my grandson so his parents can work while his daycare is closed. For my immediate family, this pandemic is a pain in the rear that causes us some anxiety, but not the devastation it is for so many others. (My niece, whose son died unexpectedly last March, had to close her restaurant two weeks ago. And it’s her sole source of income.)
    Like you, I also believe that those of us with an income need to do our part to support those who don’t, so giving is important. So is paying those we would usually pay, even though they can’t work for us right now, like our hairdressers and dog sitters.
    But mostly, I love how you affirm that it’s so important to look at things from someone else’s point of view, if only for a little while. That’s the best part about reading, I think…it gives us insight into someone else’s world. And that makes us so much less judgemental and expands our horizons in so many ways. Thanks for this post! As you can tell by the length of my comment, it really struck a chord!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First of all, thank you for this comment Ann!

      I agree about the different types of privileges and I do hope that we’re all able to pause for a minute to reflect on what those may be so we can be more grateful and less vitriolic.

      With that said, I’m sending condolences to you and your niece. That’s a lot, even without a pandemic, so I hope she’s as well as can be.

      Paying people even though you’re not receiving a service is a good idea! I had continued tipping restaurant servers, even though it’s takeout, but I hadn’t thought of paying my hair stylist.

      Perspective is super challenging, and I’m trying to remember that during these times…lol

      Thanks again for your comment ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing!!.. how am I privileged?.. today I woke up on the green side of the grass and were able to live life… everything else will fall into place… 🙂

    “Every morning your have two choices: continue to sleep with your dreams, or wake up and chase them.” (Author Unknown)….

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I feel the same way Kathy! I did not lose a paycheck. I teach so I am used to entertaining and engaging children who do not necessarily feel like learning. We have separate rooms. I got a new router, purchased extra paper and printer ink. All. The. Things. I am so grateful at this time in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Absolutely brilliant and honest post, Kathy. I’ve been thinking a lot about privilege because it happens to be a word that thrown around a lot these days. Anyway, all I’ll say on the subject…
    Privilege (with all its complexities) is NOT a dirty word. It’s what one does with it, I believe matters most.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for voicing this as privilege, Kathy. I hadn’t thought of it that way but you’re right. People are struggling or worse during this crisis in so many different ways, and I feel both blessed and guilty for not finding myself in any of those situations. Let’s hope it doesn’t go on for too much longer, but also that the decision makers listen to the public health experts so it doesn’t end up even worse than it needs to be. Stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jane. A lot of life has changed, including the way we’ve defined specific terms (I think). Suddenly it’s a privilege to have the internet (or maybe it always was). And thanks for mentioning it as a form of “survivor’s guilt.” I think that’s accurate…it’s hard to watch others suffer.

      I’m not feeling very hopeful. Here in my city, they’ve re-opened the beaches with limited restrictions and new rules. Not sure how that’s gonna go 😦

      Thanks for the well wishes; hoping you stay safe as well 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Well thought out post, Katherin. I relate very much because I am doing most of the things I loved to do at home before the virus. I don’t have a steady job, being a free-lancer. Work was slow before this happened and I’ve accepted that.
    I feel very fortunate to be healthy and grateful for my children. Just like the patience I needed for my broken ankle recovery, I know this will pass. And I agree, perspective is everything!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Judy! I’m glad you can relate to this. I kind of went back and forth about the contents because I know it’s not everyone’s current situation. But, in the spirit of authenticity, I hit publish lol

      Thank you also for mentioning health and family; it’s like we know these things are important but something like this makes it more of a privilege than just two months ago ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Well-captured. I feel the same. I’ve been able to adjust to working from home and have been given the grace to parent while working. Josh is still going to work because he is considered essential. We don’t worry about finances or not being able to work because of having a small child at home. The kids’ school was set up well to switch to online learning. All students grade four and up have school-issued Chrome Books and are pretty literate in online learning already. I’m still able to pay Emma’s dance tuition fees to support a small business. We are incredibly privileged. Perspective is everything.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Heeey Amanda! Thanks for following and stopping by! Thanks also for sharing these experiences.

      Especially with so much negativity, it’s important to acknowledge we’re okay AND also empathize with others. They can both occur simultaneously, you know?

      Like

Comments are welcomed

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s