As a blogger it’s supposedly my duty to check my privilege every once in a while. To remind not so much my half dozen or so readers that I am a privileged white born woman living in a very privileged part of the world. But to remind ME that I am these things.
Well you know what? No. I don’t think I will. Why? Because I am not privileged. I am, same as many others in my field right now, struggling to make a living in an industry that’s rapidly going down the pan. Okay so we’re not steelworkers about to lose the only possibility of employment in the town. But we’re not far off it.
I’ve often thought freelance writing these days is a bit like being a docker (stevedore/longshoreman) in the 19th century. You turn up for work not so much eager and willing to get a day’s pay but absolutely desperate. The hirer stands at the front and goes, “You you you you and you.” If it’s not YOU – and most days it won’t be – you slink off back home knowing you’ll have to face the family with nothing in your pockets.
At least those dockers who weren’t picked had each other for some camaraderie and could share the butt end of a cigarette or maybe pass around half a pint of beer. We freelancers have no such companionship. And few of us are ever brave enough to admit that times are very tough right now and unlikely to get any easier. So as well as often not having enough work to pay all our essential bills, we have to pretend that everything’s just fine. Because who wants to hire someone who can’t get work? Just as being single makes you much less likely to attract interest from other singles so being without work makes you less attractive to a hirer.
Well I’m tired of pretending. I’m supposed to be a journalist and that means seeking and telling the truth. And the truth is, white or not, living in the West or not, many of us aren’t privileged in the slightest. We don’t need Red Cross parcels – not yet anyway! And those of us with lots of experience and ability do usually manage to muddle through. But like many in other middle-class professions that are currently being hollowed out, we are only just about clinging on.
Privilege isn’t just about colour, creed, race, ethnicity, gender or age. It is and always has been most about money and access to it. It’s also about class – the one area of diversity correctness that hardly ever seems to come up when such matters are discussed. So no, I won’t be checking my privilege anytime soon. As one of the most privileged men in history once said, just keep buggering on!