“Notes on Privilege” was written by Elizabeth Anderson, an 18-year-old US native, as part of the Write the World Civics in Action project.
I have a privilege that I cannot hide—
one that is written into the lines of my face
and the arches of my fingers that
at the mistake-worn ‘Backspace’ of a wearied keyboard
(which likes to taunt my failure to stand up for others
with a heart unfazed by ridicule).
This privilege, so starkly contrasting
the diversity borne by a hypocritical American creed,
clutches at straw-stained hair and eyes so
that I wonder what I would’ve been like
if I lived in World War II Germany.
I cannot shake it, cannot coax it to leave my pale side,
cannot reconcile it even with my anti-privileges:
See—Liberty, bowlegged and shipwrecked among people
who needed her but did not deserve her,
has changed her colors not only by verdigris, has stood in solidarity
with those seeking ultimate refuge,
but she does not stand with us, the ones
who refuse to acknowledge her beyond a statue.
Yet how can we change when our screens are washed in white,
and our beauty is judged in white,
and our right to live is based upon
and never upon whether we are
goodgoodgood or even
How can we listen when our ears are stuffed
with the pages of history books framed in white for centuries?
With the pages of a Bible we think we know God through
when God is weeping in rainbow hues,
wearing every shade of skin and standing with the victims
of my kind of privilege?
Day after day, I wonder when this will end,
when ‘Backspace’ will become the least worn of the keys
and we will move forward.
It is a change that will not be derived from the root of our words,
vowels and consonants drowning out voices of color,
nor is it a change that will stem from social media,
which may encourage good intentions
but cannot help slinking back to masquerade shadows
when posting and sharing is no longer
It is a change that we may only truly experience
by stripping ourselves of our drive to attack,
to be heard and be seen and be right,
because we have to make room for those
who have never been heard or seen or right.
We do not like to be shown the error
of our ways, to be ridiculed and condescended
with skewed statistics, fury-full facts,
so let us allow ourselves to step back,
to be immersed in a symphony of voices never heard before,
and know then what
We must rid ourselves of our violent will to hate,
because even turning our hate on our own privilege
bears witness to where we turned our hate for centuries,
and this is an age in which we stop lynching
Accepting the privilege that I cannot hide,
living with it, breathing through it,
is the only way to quiet my voice and lift up the ones that
Because black lives do matter.
“Notes on Privilege” was written by Elizabeth Anderson, an 18-year-old US native as part of the Write the World Civics in Action project, a collaboration that includes Parentology, the National Children’s Campaign and Facing History & Ourselves.
Other Civics in Action Write the World Articles
May Zheng on Police and Racism
Allie Lowe on Teens Questioning Racism
Chloe Sow on Calling Out Racism in Asian American Communities
Maxwell Surprenant on Friendships that Bridge Generations
Joseph Mullen on Judgement and Tolerance
Elizabeth Anderson on Kids Dealing with Grief During COVID-19
Amy Nam on Embracing Empathy During Coronavirus