Monday, October 29, 2012

The Privilege of Race

There is only one Sunday left before our performance of the Race Monologues. I am getting nervous, but more excited than nervous. I think I have a lot to share and I am excited to have a venue to express myself. I didn't make it to the last meeting, and right now we are refining our final pieces to perform, so I want to keep it a secret, but I thought I'd give another prompt for all you MISS followers. Write on what privileges your race gives you.

I've been lucky enough to experience being white in two very different worlds. When I moved to Alaska at 13 I became the minority. In high school I was the only white girl on the cheer leading team for a while. Living in Kotzebue, this difference was never very important to me and I rarely noticed. At college I was given time to reflect on who I was in high school. I realized that my difference affected my experience a lot. There were a lot of moments of exclusion based on my whiteness.

Even though I was a minority and faced exclusion based on that, I have come to the ultimate realization that being a minority in a small corner of Alaska did not erase my privilege in the world. Our country has a lot of power, and within our country who has that power? This country was created for Caucasians despite the fact that it already belonged to Native Americans. Through time as our population has expanded to include a large population of Latin Americans, African Americans, and Alaska Natives our country remains focused on Caucasians excluding other populations all together.

Coming to the realization that I have this privilege that I did not earn, that sometimes I feel that I don't deserve, simply because of my race, was difficult for me to deal with. But I realized that what I do with my power is more important than how I got it. As a person of power in this country I will always fight for others who don't have as much, in order to make this a more inclusive country. In my mind, when life gives you opportunity it is your responsibility to pass it on.

-Hannah Atkinson


  1. My race has given me the awesome privilege of post-secondary education. I would not be able to be attending college if it weren't for the scholarships available for native americans.

    I wasn't a 4.0 high school student, I barely passed the requirements to be considered an honor student. Even if I hadn't been an honor student, I would still be able to gather enough scholarships to help me get through school without going into debt. Organizations are basically begging to pay me to receive more education past high school because I am native.

    I am taking the things I've learned from school so far to benefit the community that pays for my school the best I can. A lot of people tell me I'm lucky and there isn't a lot of hope for other students. I call bull$*!t on that one. I have seen (am seeing) many mothers fight their way through school, a full time job, and homemaking. I have seen (am seeing) guys go and receive college education and come back to help out in the educational AND medical field.

    There is a high increase in this generation of people going out to pursue a degree and help the community. And, if we do things right this progress will continue.

    The only step to losing hope is by not recognizing both previous and present accomplishments and not encouraging future ones. I strongly believe in today's Inupiaq students and encourage them all to take advantage of the scholarships available to native americans, not just in the NANA region but across the country, too.
    They're all rooting for you.

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