A Special Obligation of Leadership
True leadership means acknowledging privilege and its politics, and struggling for fairness. The best leaders know that invisible privilege (like socioeconomics, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation) coupled with visible privilege (like their own hierarchical position) dramatically affect what happens everywhere.
Privilege and its politics affect the willingness to ask the essential and cage-rattling questions. Privilege and its politics affect group dynamics. Privilege and its politics affect the ability to take risk. Really, privilege and its politics affect everything.
First and forever, leaders challenge the status quo.
So privilege and its politics affect your staff and volunteers and the health and effectiveness of your organization. Privilege and its politics affect your community and its ability to build civic capacity and civil society.
In 1988, Peggy McIntosh, PhD, published her groundbreaking article “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.”14 McIntosh challenges us to recognize our own unearned and invisible privilege. She dares us to acknowledge that privilege is not a result of something a person has done. On the contrary, privilege is the result of “invisible systems conferring dominance on a particular group.”
Think about it. Don’t get angry. Just think about it. Some of us were born white. And in many, many countries, it’s an advantage to be white. And those who are born white and male have even more advantage. For ...