Any state or condition where one person has a structural or persistent advantage over another in some way which is not due to the person’s own efforts. A person with a head start in a race is privileged, or has a consistent flow of resources so that they don’t have to worry about survival. The idea of unearned privilege is designated as the source or the outcome of many inequities in human society. It’s an advantage one gets that one didn’t have to do anything to receive – such as skin color, speaking English as a native language, being born male.
When it comes to a skill that can be learned or a condition that can be achieved by virtually everyone, we usually don’t refer to a person who can bake a cake or sew well as having sewing privilege or cake-baking privilege. We just say they’re “good at it”. We sometimes say they are “talented” but the idea of talent brings us back to privilege a little bit, to the idea that someone’s abilities are more due to an innate predisposition than something they had to achieve through effort.« Back to Glossary Index