I recognize my privilege. I’ve rarely, in my lifetime, felt discriminated against. I was born into a white, middle-class family and provided with a good education — the odds for success and against discrimination were admittedly in my favor. So, for as long as I can remember, I believed I could do anything I wanted to do. I still believe that. In my mind, I’m limited by only myself — my own actions or lack thereof.
That’s not to say I’m sure I’ve always made the same amount as the men I’ve worked alongside were paid. Nor have I been immune to sexism. Oddly, most overt sexism I’ve felt in the workplace has been directed by other women, and it was more uncomfortable and disheartening than an obstacle to overcome.
But I never questioned whether I could go to this school or enter that profession if I was qualified. I continue to believe that with effort, I can succeed. I enjoy this confidence because of the many women before me who paved the way.
I never really thought about it much. Like most who are born to privilege, I took it for granted. Rather than recognizing it, nurturing it, taking full advantage of it, building on it, improving it and making sure others could enjoy it, I simply accepted it.
Shortly after someone I loved and admired died, I read somewhere that when they go, those we love leave us with a part of themselves. We become like them, accepting a quality, trait or manner of theirs. When my beautiful friend Berit died, I became determined to be more like her, to be more kind, to love more, to smile more, to see good.
Now, with the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I am determined to better use my privilege, though equality ought not be a privilege. The vacant seat on the nation’s highest court calls attention to the perilous divide in our country and the precarious state of our democracy.
I will carefully examine the candidates as I vote in the upcoming election, looking for character, a message of unity and absence of self-serving motive. I’m voting for candidates at all levels of government who appeal to our commonality rather than promoting division, those whose platforms are based on their qualifications, what they can and will do, their merits.
To emulate my friend, Berit, who was the epitome of love and light, I keep trying to live in the light and come from a place of love. In honor of the esteemed justice, I will be more active and engaged in our democracy. I pledge to do everything I can to support and to protect it. I will be more sensitive to those who are marginalized. I will place an even higher value on fairness, justice and equality.
I will vote and remain vigilant, holding those in power accountable. Because I have the privilege of writing in this space, I’m asking you to do the same. Engage.