"Will we play BINGO?" - conversation about privileges during quarantine
21.04.2020, Anna Kudarewska, Luba Shynder
One of the areas of the IYMC's work is anti-discrimination education, an important element of which is awareness of privileges that some social groups use more or less consciously. Various crises, difficult situations in which we find ourselves can be an opportunity to reflect on these privileges, they let us stop and see what is transparent and invisible on a daily basis. Also now, at a time when we deal with compulsory isolation in our homes in different ways, this is an important topic. Our teacher, Luba, has created a bingo (a tool we often use when working with young people) that can help us reflect on our privileges, wonder if only we feel the current situation as difficult, because we can not do things that seemed obvious to us, because our daily standards have fallen, which were simply very high compared to most people in the world. Using this bingo, we can devote ourselves to reflecting on other people around us, close or very far away, and think about what we can do from our privileged position, what change is needed. Also in our pedagogical work with young people.
Reflecting on privileges has been with me for a long time. Understanding what privileges are, how they work in society, where they come from, seems crucial to me about human rights.
Human rights, by definition, are universal, so they apply to everyone, but as people, we actually have very different access to these rights, we have different fears and we fight for this access differently.
I often think about this when reflecting about my place in society: on the one hand, I am a migrant from a poorer country, I do not have the citizenship of the country where I live, that is Poland, I have not been able to leave the country for two years because of bureaucracy, so I am far from my family and I can neither support them nor count on their support. So I have far fewer privileges compared to Polish citizens.
On the other hand, I often compare myself with other migrants, and then I feel too privileged. I don’t differ in appearance, my dark-skinned friend with a long, thick, dark beard has much more difficulties. I speak Polish, my good hearing and the fact that I know two other Slavic languages gives me the opportunity to imitate an accent, so I often pretend to be a person "from here" and avoid unpleasant glances and uncomfortable questions. Sometimes, however, people even in my presence complain about migrants, those "Ukrainians". My good education (another privilege that is a consequence of other privileges, e.g. educated parents, family wealth, coming from a big city, free education in the country) gave me the opportunity to find a job in which I earn more than the national minimum wage and I can keep myself. No children to look after (whether sex education and access to contraception are privileges - for me definitely yes, because many women do not have it and also have no choice whether to give birth or not, whether to get pregnant or not), savings at the bank (here we often hear that having savings is a matter of lifestyle and hard work, I am sure it is a matter of privileges, because earning a minimum wage, a person is not able to save anything, because nothing is left after spending on basic needs, it is not about "hard work ” but access to a well-paid job) they give me the opportunity to choose a job and not agree on any job. Having an employer who with respect and understanding supports me in matters of residence and other procedures related to my migration is also a huge privilege, which, unfortunately, a small number of migrants can boast of.
With all this in mind, I created this BINGO. During the currently uncertain situation, I felt very privileged, very safe. The biggest fear for me is the inability to, if necessary, take care of my older parents who live on the other side of the border.
Play BINGO with yourself and think about whether you know people who will not win in this game, for whom most of these sentences are currently unreachable.