Tag Archives: privilege

Waves of emotion

Like I said in my reflection in class today… I can’t believe today is Friday already!  This week has flown by so fast.  Coming into this week I had fears that we were going to have 9 hour days full of lectures.  In reality, we have had some lectures but the majority of the time has been devoted to hands on education.  From learning the basics of filming to setting up interviews, it has been a hectic but enjoyable week in the classroom.

So far I have had mixed emotions about this project.  From the moment I signed up for backpack journalism I have been excited to be behind the camera.  That is where I feel the most comfortable and have the most experience. But interviewing is something I am a little nervous about.  I have absolutely no experience in journalism so having the opportunity to interview someone down at the border is terrifying to me.  I would really like to give it a try so hopefully I will have enough courage to step outside of my comfort zone and do it.

One of my biggest fears is going all the way down there and not doing justice to the people of Nogales.  We have tremendous power as journalists in portraying situations and in forming opinions.  It is our duty to tell the truth and not to mix the message of the people of Nogales and the surrounding area.

We talked in class about how you can feel a sense of guilt when going into areas of poverty.  The thought has crossed my mind but I feel that it is my duty as a privileged person to tell their story in a way that is not harmful or misleading.  We also talked about how everyone in the class is in the top .8% of the world’s wealthiest people.  This comes with tremendous power that can be used for doing good or bad.  It will be interesting to see what I am feeling throughout this journey.  The experience in and of itself will be beneficial for me both mentally and spiritually.  We are going down to the border to present a story and to depict the reality of life on the border and of the immigrants who cross it.  To see their daily struggles up close and personal will be a life changing experience.

With all of these emotions and fears, how will I stay strong through this journey?  My answer is simple.

God.

The one who died on the cross and who forgave our sins is my confidence.  I have had times in my life where I didn’t think things would ever get better but through it all God was always there.  My past experiences are part of the reason why I am considering being a theology teacher.

Another reason for my confidence are my classmates.  I know that we all have each other’s back and if I needed help with something someone would be there.  The community that we have built is already good but I am excited to see how far we will go.

I will be going somewhat off the grid for the next two weeks.  Besides the blogs I will be writing and the occasional check in with my parents I will not be using my phone.  I believe this experience will be enhanced greatly without our first world distractions.

I hope you all keep up with our journey as we embark tomorrow morning on our own pilgrimage to Nogales, Arizona and Nogales Sonora.

Note:  CU backpack journalism now has a Snapchat!! Not only can you read our blogs on this website but you can also follow us on Snapchat.  Below is the QR code.

CU Backpack Journalism official Snapchat
Official CU Backpack Journalism Snapchat

Privilege

There seems to be a lot of criticism when it comes to people like me and my “privileged” life. I know that some critics have accused college-aged kids who travel to the developing world of doing it solely so they can justify their privileged lives. The consensus seems to be that since I am a middle-class, well-educated white American, clearly traveling to the developing world is some need I have to validate myself and satisfy my “emotional needs.”

Which, in a sense, is actually quite true. At least in some cases. I know I’ve definitely seen certain people who live lavish and self-indulgent lifestyles and then somehow justify it because they’ve been to the developing world. Which is complete bullshit to me.

On the other hand, there are individuals who just so happen to have talents and abilities that they have chosen to use for the benefit of others. People who devote their life and a half to making the world a better place and fighting evil. These people just so happen to be “privileged” however, and can therefore not understand the people they choose to help, at least according to certain, to quote Kristof, “armchair cynics.”

Thing is, I don’t think privilege is something to be ashamed about. Sure I was born into a family that was able to provide me with the opportunity for three meals a day, a roof over my head, and good education. But there are many, many other types of privileges out there, and I think focus on simple monetary privileges is both narrow-minded and intellectually conceited.

Some other privileges include intellectual privilege, where one seems to be born with inherent problem-solving and reasoning skills (I know of several individuals close to me who have said privilege, and who I am usually jealous of), or athletic privilege, which gives us athletes like Michael Phelps and Lance Armstrong. I can also say that what I saw in Uganda was a different kind of privilege, one of community. I remember seeing these people who were born with an inherent sense of community, where cripples and HIV-infected children would enjoy the same respect as the village elder. I remember that me and my outsider ways was even a little jealous of that kind of privilege, the kind of privilege I’ve never had in my life.

But here’s the thing about privilege: IT. IS. NOTHING. TO. BE. ASHAMED. OF. If one is told to be ashamed of the fact that they have the opportunity for health-care and education, that’s the same as telling a Ugandan from Abia that he/she should be ashamed of the opportunity they have to take part in and work for the betterment of the community. Should someone be ashamed that they have certain “privileges” that others don’t have? Should I be ashamed that I have access to running water and electricity, the kind that others wish they had? Should those who have privileges different than mine be ashamed of it?

My father and I discussed privilege once. And for him, he thought that “privilege” was reserved for social and economic status akin to families like the Kennedy’s. For us, he said our family wasn’t “privileged,” but instead, “fortunate.” He described our family as being fortunate of the fact that our ancestors decided to leave Ireland for better opportunities. He said that I was fortunate that I had education, health-care, a unique perspective due to being an outsider, and many other things, and that that was different than being “privileged.”

Which is an idea I can get on board with. I don’t consider myself privileged. I consider myself fortunate. I think others are more fortunate than I, and I think others are less fortunate than I. I think that being fortunate is not something I should be ashamed of, but something I should be proud of. Proud of in the sense that someone is proud of their son or daughter. Proud of in the sense of being proud that you have the work-ethic to accomplish your goals, or are able to problem-solve better than others, or that you have a community that you can always fall back on.

The truth is, everyone is fortunate in some way. Some are fortunate with families or community, while others are fortunate with intellect and reason. Fortune comes in many different forms, and there is no reason why we should be jealous of nor covet our own fortune. Instead, we should work to bring that fortune to others. We should work, in our lives, to serve each other, because we all have different kinds of fortune to offer. We all have fortune that we have gained in our own lives, and fortune is meant to be shared. Through sharing fortune with each other, we are able to work for the betterment of each other, not in a condescending, superior vs inferior kind of way, but in a way that makes us more human.

I think part of being human is being able to work to serve others, and I can’t think of a better privilege than the opportunity to serve humanity.

TL;DR: Privilege, or fortune, is nothing to be ashamed of.