Question and Answer: What To Do About Privilege?

What do you live in resistance to? How do you support the resistance of others, different as it may look? How do we situate ourselves and use the privilege we have not as a tool of shame, but a strategy of intervention? A professor once told me that guilt is frozen action. Unfreeze yourself.

One place to start is to look into the history of resistance of people you come from, including white people, men, queer people, etc. I think a powerful step in allowing people to become agents of change is to learn that people with their identity markers have historically participated in the work of justice. You can participate in that legacy as well. We are ALL capable of intervening on injustice We just have to learn that we can, and feel supported in doing so strategically.

Everyone, no matter what social group you come from, has a legacy of resistance and resilience. Resistance, if I may make a bold claim, is the only universal. If you haven’t found it, you aren’t looking hard enough. History has been written to keep groups adversarial and separated. Let’s hold ourselves accountable to making room for people to learn, grow, and change. Though we may not always be able to do this to our own satisfaction, or we may need to rest and retreat, we need to empower enough of us to be able to help teach youth, peers, and older adults to take care of themselves when they don’t feel able to engage, and to support newcomers to justice work as they struggle to forge new alliances and communities.

Mauro Sifuentes

Mauro Sifuentes is a native Californian and a Chicano of mixed-race experience and a member of the Brown Boi Project. He received his Bachelor’s from the University of Southern California in 2007, studying Music, Psychology and Linguistics. From there, he went on to earn a Master’s degree in Cultural Anthropology and plans on completing a doctorate in Education from the University of San Francisco, beginning Spring 2014. Foregrounding issues of the relationship between cultural assimilation and structural oppression, Mauro’s writing and research explores frameworks of (post-)coloniality, Foucauldian genealogy/archaeology, and feminisms while seeking to deconstruct narratives of gender, race, nationality, education, and violence. He currently works as a youth organizer with a nonprofit in Oakland that focuses on domestic violence intervention and prevention and is also working to help shape a new nonprofit to advocate for the legal and medical needs of transgender communities. An advocate and scholar for social justice, Mauro is committed to facilitating alliance building work across communities of difference in order to create cross-identity coalitions and projects.

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