Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Allan Johnson's writings about people, power and the assumed rights of the 'privileged' made me think back to another article that I read quite a few years ago that concerned the rights of people in another time and place. It scared me when I first read it because I never realized the full extent of racism and the assumptions that people made in centuries past. It was a poem named "White Man's Burden" by Rudyard Kipling (yes, the same man that wrote The Jungle Book). The following is a link to the poem in full:

It has been interpreted many different ways over the years but the first thing that came to my mind is: "What is wrong with this guy? Why does he think he's so special?"
It didn't occur to me until today that Kipling thought that he and the white British Imperials of the time were privileged. Johnson mentions in his article that privilege "exists when one group has something of value that is denied to others simply because of the group that they belong to rather than because anything that they've done or failed to do."
This also brings to mind another work that brings up the point of privilege and the ones who suffer through the many twisted definitions of the word. The film "Amistad" is not an easy film to watch but it's always been one of my favorites.
Director Steven Spielberg shows hatred, racism and mostly the misunderstood nature of humanity at that point in time. It is the sad case of human beings not taking the full measure of life and the worth of the lives of others that makes the movie so sad and angers so many people. It's when people choose to ignore that all people are people in some way that we may truly lose our way.

1 comment:

  1. Here's another great quote:
    "...because privilege doesn't derive from who we are are not what we've done. It is a social arrangement that depends on which category we happen to be sorted into by other people and how they treat us as a result."