Cover image for I Am Privileged

I Am Privileged

xanderyzwich profile image Corey McCarty Originally published at coreydmccarty.dev on ・3 min read

Cover image from Paris Musees Collections

I grew up in a white middle-class home with both of my parents. I may have stressed about getting money for things sometimes, but I never worried about whether or not I'd eat or where I would sleep. I had the opportunity to attend college while living in my parents' house and being covered by their insurance. I worked for my own money, but looking back on it I realize that I didn't need as much as I made. The only bills that I had were for my cell phone and car insurance. Any expenditures beyond that were my own decision. I had a car, and even though my first car was a piece of crap, I didn't have to pay for it. When I drove it I didn't have to worry about getting pulled over due to the color of my skin and I didn't have to worry about the police in my suburban area doing me any harm.

Nobody ever handed me a million dollars, but food was plentiful. Many non-minority people hear the word privilege and think of someone like Donald Trump whose family had immense piles of money, cars, helicopters, jets, and real estate. The thought is that "I worked hard for what I have" and that's true. Others have worked every bit as hard, but due to where they started they do not have everything that you have. Privilege doesn't mean that everything is really easy for you or that you live a comfortable life of luxury. Privilege means that you don't have to worry about the prejudices of other people in the room before opening your mouth. Privilege means that you didn't have to work to pay for rent before you finished high school.

When I was first placed into my current position, I felt disadvantaged because I believed I was the only American working for my company, and among the Americans that I work with I was the only vendor. I wasn't entirely a part of either group. Non-vendor employees had meetings and events that I couldn't be a part of, and the vendors around me all shared knowledge of other languages which I didn't know. All of those things are true, but the conclusion that I came to was very wrong. While I wasn't entirely in either group I also wasn't entirely separate from either group. The things that I saw as the source of my isolation could also be the source of my inclusion in these groups. The vendors aren't given monitors, keyboards, and mice when they start the way that the full time employees are so I started gathering up monitors with decent resolution as well as usb keyboards and mice. Over the next couple of years I was able to get all of the vendors in my area setup with two HD monitors over twenty inches. They are now able to be more productive, and they feel more comfortable and less set apart from the others. It doesn't take much effort to treat people that are different with the same compassion and respect that are given to others.

It takes people with a bit of privilege to use their position and open up discussions in order that the people without privilege can be heard more loudly. There are lots of people screaming for equality, but most people don't realize that as a part of the majority that they are complicit in systematic alienation of minorities. As long as people sit in comfort surrounded by people that look like them there will be people who are different that are being held outside of that community. Inclusion requires that we learn about the experiences of other people beyond our echo chamber. If we don't make an effort to intentionally include minority groups in our lives and communities then we are just prolonging the sameness that makes diversity not happen. If you want to make your group more diverse then perhaps the people that know best how to make it more welcoming to minorities are people with experience being from such a group. Therefore, efforts are needed to see things from the outside in order to help us to see the way that we are making others feel unwelcome.

Please comment influencers, blogs, or podcasts in the programming community that openly discuss diversity. It's even better if they are here on dev.to

Much thanks are owed to @onesirian for his help editing this post!

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In other words, be a human lol. Put yourself in other people's shoes. We are all human. No race or group is superior than the other. At the end of the day, we all die the same, we cry the same, we laugh the same, we fail the same, we triumph same. Accepting diversity comes down to squashing your ego and accepting the fact that you are not that special. Your world view is your world view only. On the other side, that person might look at the world completely different. "Oh I come from a good college, I'm white, I've read more books. As a human, I'm worth more than you" - that's an illusion. That person that has read zero books on their life and perhaps looks poor and underserved .. probably has a happy family, zero sickness and probably has more common sense than some person from Harvard. I've seen plenty of stuck up idiots with fancy degrees. My advice to you? Get out in the world. Don't let the color of your skin determine who you are and how you will act(this goes for everyone). Be humble, travel the world. Get to know other cultures and embrace difference. Get out of your bubble.


Well said! But the sad truth is most people won't giving up privilege once they have it, and regard it as an advantage of survival in society, hence they gradually becoming an advocate of the privilege and toxic to underprivileged groups in order to uphold their advantage.


I'd say that it isn't about 'giving up privilege' as much as it is about using it to help others. Its about speaking to people who identify with you and helping them to see value in the people who are different regardless of what that difference is. End game is for thag privilege to not exist, but in the mean time those who have it should make an effort to give voice to those who don't.

That's a good point. Here comes the interesting part, why don't the privileges promote equality in order to resolve the above-mentioned issues? Isn't it more effective and better?

You are 100% correct. I would fully expect the 'using it to help others' to be promoting equality.


most people won't giving up privilege once they have it

I have researched this, and it's surprisingly well studied, although the researchers do what they can to keep the findings clean of the taint of public opinion. The demographics are not what I expected.


This is such an important article. Thank you for stepping in and making change happen. Diversity definitely needs to be addressed on all fronts in the dev community. Appreciate you opening up and continuing the discussion on this platform!


Thank you. We can beat this crap by working together.


I grew up well below the poverty line, and through a combination of hard work & sheer dumb good luck - am happy to now consider myself Privileged.

I agree with your pay-it-back inclusion, and I've been actively involved in our hiring process (incl. designing the way it works, interviews & final sign-offs). I actively look for someone from some form of minority. Not because of some quota, but because those are usually the most driven candidates, and they stop the company living in an echo chamber.

Can't help on the podcasts etc, but will be watching the other comments...


Said it before but thanks Corey for your total openness here. This goes far beyond a typical tech blog post and inspires us all to think a bit deeper about our human experience. Good job dude.


Thank you for your assistance


I deeply appreciate your candor Corey! I'm a researcher helping to study the ways in which different folks experience working in tech and your story speaks volumes about the ways in which your background has shaped your experiences. If you would like to support our work, we would love for you to take 10 minutes to share your experiences at work with us in this brief survey:surveygizmo.com/s3/5351781/Kapor-S.... As a thank you, the study team will make a donation to an organization working to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in tech (Black Girls Code, Native Girls Code, TechBridge Girls, Latinas in Tech). Please share this with others to help capture as many voices as possible! Thanks in advance! And thanks again for posting your story, it's a great read!


The content of this particular survey calls to mind the difference between polling and research.


"If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
-- Romans 10:5


Fantastic post. Very open minded, super authentic, and give great actionable tips.


This is so well articulated! Bravo! Thanks for being so open and thoughtful.