What is unearned privilege?

I know that being born White, fairly able-bodied, in an affluent neighbourhood to educated, entrepreneurial parents immediately 'gave' me a lot of privilege...access to 'good' schools, to learning business language, and to resources for basic and luxury goods. I was given a sense of self-worth and confidence by my parents They taught me how and when to respectfully challenge authority: 'tell your teacher what you need to succeed,' and, 'tell the doctor where it hurts.' Except for a few comments and media messages about 'just being a girl,' I never believed too deeply that I wasn't 'good enough' or that I must be complacent and subservient.

Yet I understand now that those connections to jobs and opportunities that 'others' would probably never get, were 'unearned' and allotted to me simply because my ancestors were White. My Mom's side was mostly English, with a hint of Irish/French Canadian - still White and Christian enough to move freely socially and economically. My Dad's family worked hard on a farm they were practically given over a hundred years ago that gave them the foundation to build their own little bit of wealth and security, to eventually save some money, and to willingly send kids and grandkids to schools of their choice. Eventually my Dad got a loan to start his own business; like a lot of other Ukrainians, soon he could afford to curl, to coach baseball, and to take me to sportsMEN's dinners where we mingled with other privileged people. I doubt anybody in those dinner clubs looked back to wonder how life would be different if their settler grandparents were NOT allowed to live on fertile grounds, or were forced off their lands, or could not vote, or could not get a loan, or would not be hired for any jobs.

If recognizing injustice is the first step (and I now see it everywhere because I am actively looking for it) then the next step is disrupting it. The bigger challenge is pulling the unnamed privileges out of the darkness - holding them to the light to expose their hidden meaning - and then looking for ways to 'even the scales' or 'level the playing field' while I work or play.

I get frustrated when people are lazy - when they don't stop to think, 'Who benefits most from me buying this brand of coffee or these clothes, from this store?' Are there alternatives that can better serve others?  I get furious when laziness is coupled with prejudice and racism... and my 'real life' example below is a kind of a 'mixing pot' of many moments of me critically listening, arguing, talking, reading and engaging in social justice discussions...

Click here to read about how this frustration turned into fury... and how it all played out in the summer of 2013...