Writing today in the Huffington Post, Jasmine Burton says that she broke down in tears after realizing that she is not as oppressed as other people in the United States.
Ms. Burton’s article is titled “Finding My Place In the Fight for Social Justice and Health Equity” and recounts her struggles to find her “place in the fight for social justice.”
One of Ms. Burton’s seminal moments in social justice came during her “first privilege walk.” She writes that the “instructor lined everyone up at the end of a hallway and told us to stand side by side. She said, “It’s easy. Just follow the instructions.””
Then the instructor told members of the privilege walk to take a step back if they had “books in their house” and had parents who “tell you that they love you everyday,” among other things.
According to Ms. Burton, she was “far out ahead of the majority of the group, almost in complete isolation,” meaning she was drastically move privileged than her compatriots.
“That was the moment that I physically realized that because of my background and because of my incredible communities of support, I was well positioned in life,” she writes, emphasis hers. “And it wasn’t fair. I completely broke.”
After the activity, she called her mom, weeping: “On the phone with my mom crying, I tried to put into words just how unfair it was. I felt like a sham — trying to engage in the fight for social justice and health equity despite not experiencing nearly as much struggle or pain as my peers.
“As a bi-racial African American and Native American female who grew up in a predominately white and largely affluent suburban community in the American south, I felt that the discrimination and injustices that I grew up combating would never compare to that of my peers,” she laments.
Ms. Burton adds, “The intersection of my identities and my maturation as a social justice advocate has helped me digest how the concepts of power and privilege play out in my life on both the American and global stages.”
Then, she writes, she went to the Global Health Corps Fellowship this year and was told by a speaker, “in the marathon of life, you can always take another step towards social change.” This made Ms. Burton break down in tears again.
“This last statement resonated with me and honestly brought me to tears because much of what he said is comparable with my personal struggle of being a person from a perceived privileged and, therefore, power-oriented background engaging in this fight for social justice,” she concludes.
I Own the World Report was the first to write about Ms. Burton’s article.