It’s time we have an honest conversation about privilege

At Ms Tee, we’re founded on the belief that female empowerment is a fundamental tenet of equality, but we’re also very aware that our position comes from a place of privilege.

As a good friend highlighted to me recently, when I write it drips with eloquence and insight, but is awash with white privilege. I accept this unconditionally.

Your own privilege is often hard to behold, but just because I may not see mine all the time, doesn’t mean I should not acknowledge its indelible presence.

Whether it’s our education, our careers (giving us financial independence), our skin colour, our age, our physical and mental ableism, or our sexuality, both Berny and I know we are privileged in a number of ways. It doesn’t mean we don’t face struggles, but these factors are certainly not the cause of them.

Likewise, we are equally and actively committed to educating ourselves, so as to be more aware of how we can be better allies to all who need it.

I know we won’t always get it right, but we will always strive to exist as a positive force, through which people can feel able to express themselves and challenge normalised views of identity and gender.

Lately, our privilege has been very much on our minds. As we’ve been reminded of the systemic inequality that exists at home and around the world, we can’t help but reflect on the ignorance that largely feeds racism.

I’m not here to be performative, or to make myself feel better with a hashtag. What I can give right now is a message to those I hold near and dear—my friends, family, colleagues and our beautiful Ms Tee community—that we must put our privilege to better use.

It’s time to worry less about who you might offend, and more about what it says when you stay silent.

But, whatever you say, please do not tell me that all lives matter.

‘All lives’ don’t have to fear early death through lower health outcomes, incarceration, or through poverty. All lives certainly are not faced with daily bouts of casual racism or discrimination.

And, not all lives have been acknowledged in our constitution.

Only black lives—specifically Indigenous lives in Australia—face this particular form of systemic racism. It’s why the Black Lives Matter movement deserves better than to be silenced or subdued by so-called ‘well meaning’ claims that all lives matter.

Likewise, the increased racism towards Asian Australians also needs to be called out. It is a separate issue, but one that should not be ignored, either. If we, as Australians, want to lay claim to being a welcoming, laid back, friendly nation, we need to call out any behaviours that contradict these values.

Racism, like sexism, or sexual discrimination, or gender-based violence or ageism, or ableism, homophobia or transphobia, should not be tolerated in a welcoming society.

If your silence allows it, it’s time to speak up.

Whether that’s using the education many of us have received to help teach others of the injustices that buttress our systems of power, or using our art as a platform of expression to explore our imperfections—to question, critique and raise awareness—there are many ways we can make incremental changes.

In our own circles, we’ve had tough conversations regarding our own role right now. We’re taking active steps to increase our awareness and keep our privilege well in check. We don’t have the answers, but we’re going to strive to recognise intersectional discrimination and address it where possible through our voice, our platform and our art.

So, in our next instalment, we will be addressing two core themes to help create a more equal world—empathy and pride in your identity.

Through empathy, we can be compassionate, aware and more open to the lived experience of others; and by being unapologetically you, we will celebrate every unique and wonderful aspect of your identity alongside you.

We look forward to sharing them with you.

Thank you,

Keeva

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