As the world continues to shift and slide, as long-standing issues come to the surface to be healed and released, the current global crisis relating to racism should hopefully lead to society tackling other important issues. Western privilege being one of them.
For those of you fighting the good fight against privilege, have you considered the issue in a global context? That, perhaps, we have borne witness to a level of inequality between the western world and the countries of Africa, for example, which has resulted in the abject poverty and death of millions of people over the last 50 years? People whose suffering has been far greater than anything we can imagine in the western world?
That western privilege is a problem which needs to be tackled urgently, in order for balance to be restored between the west and the rest of the world, the rich and the poor, the needy and the greedy?
The plight of Africa first came to my attention as a little girl. One day, as I struggled to finish my dinner and asked if I could leave the rest, I got the reply, “There are children dying in Africa. Go on, eat up.” I’m showing my age. This was the 1980s when the droughts in Africa reached epic proportions, Band-Aid was born, and starving children with swollen potbellies were all over the news. The famine killed tens of thousands. Do you remember? If you are too young to have witnessed this atrocity, the Ethiopian famine of the 1980s was a tragic natural disaster that should not have happened.
To say I took it on board is an understatement. Those children haunted my dreams as I child. I’d lie awake at night, staring at the ceiling, trying to understand how such a thing could happen. I’ve never forgotten the plight of Africa.
So many African countries still struggle with an extreme level of poverty, where people don’t have access to enough food or clean water. Many areas are rife with disease, AIDS being one of them. That´s right. We applaud the fact that humanity made a stride forward when treatment was found to prevent death from AIDS. Yet people are still dying from AIDS in Africa every day. Every day, my friends.
The word “privilege” is thrown around the western world at the drop of a hat, yet very few of us really appreciate just how privileged we are to live in the western world compared to Africa.
The level of privilege that westerners enjoy in terms of their lifestyle, their possessions, the food they eat, and the healthcare they receive is absolutely outrageous when compared to the standard of living in countries in Africa.
That´s not to say that the issues currently faced in the Western world aren’t important, far from it. Racism needs to be eradicated from our world.
Yet, we need to look beyond our borders and open our eyes to see how the rest of the world has fared at our expense. As the Western world has gobbled up the world´s resources to feed our consumer habits, children are still starving to death in Africa. Where is the equality in that?
We need to talk about Western privilege, my friends and educate ourselves as to how we have thrived at the expense of other nations around the world.
Perhaps we should feel shame for what has happened in Africa and apologise for our actions, even if they were made in ignorance. There is an urgent need to press for solutions that will bring poorer nations into balance with the rest of the world.
We need to end all forms of privilege, once and for all so that every person on this planet has their basic needs taken care of. We talk about thriving in the western world all the time, but we need to make sure that our fellow human beings all over the planet have enough to be able to survive.
For those of you fighting the good fight against racism, please don’t forget your brothers and sisters in Africa. They need your voice and support. They need you to fight the good fight for them, too.
(c) Samantha Wilson 2020. All Rights Reserved.