The whole idea of someone telling another person to “check your privilege” has always disturbed me.
First, it’s only something you would hear from “First World” people. I’ve been to a few third world countries, had many interactions with people in those countries, and no one ever told me to check my privilege.
Next, it makes no sense. Think about it that even in the “First World”, we all come from differing circumstances. Yes, different gender, race, ethnicity, educational, and economic backgrounds. So how is anyone supposed to have a substantive conversation with another person? How is it possible for me to disagree with any position another person takes because they might make assumptions about my background and invoke “privilege”?
Isn’t it possible that any of us can understand, at least to some degree, another person of a different background, and discuss issues that we might disagree on? I say yes, we are able to do that.
Those that use “check your privilege” are people that don’t have a coherent argument to make about the subject. It’s a way of dismissing the other person’s argument without having to defend their own ideas. It’s also a way for people to decide that the other person is too stupid to possibly be able to understand their point of view.
There’s a possibility that I might not really understand the other person’s situation. But at that point, wouldn’t it be preferable to try to help me understand instead of just dismissing me outright? I think that how we learn from each other.
But maybe I’m wrong.
So, to try and avoid this in the future I’ve come up with an idea that we can all use before we get into any serious discussion with another person: We’ll exchange a short biographical sketch along with our resumes to make sure each person is qualified to discuss whatever the subject happens to be. If the other person in the discussion happens to have a better background, then before using a phrase like “check your privilege”, you can just dismiss them out of hand.
The same for a person with a poorer background. Just dismiss them and not even enter into any conversation. The only people we’d be obliged to have a conversation with then would be those people tht have a similar background.
I think this will work out well! I really can’t see a downside, can you?
So, from now on, I won’t be checking my privilege.