Disclaimer: I formally recognize economic, racial, knowledge, gender, and every other sort of privilege as ongoing problems that we should all strive to become more cognizant of, as they have and continue to create inequality that provides for unjust pain and suffering. This article is my opinion on privilege on a much smaller scale within my personal experience. I recently attended an event focused on discussing privilege and diversity at Cornell. Not only did it reinforce my knowledge of advantages that I was already aware of, but it taught me of others I hadn’t known were ravaging people’s lives. I found myself nodding, clapping, and truly loving the candid and safe atmosphere that was being created with each new voice… up to a point.
I glare at myself in the mirror. Maybe if I stare at my reflection long enough, critically enough, I’ll finally see myself the way the U.S. government sees me: white. After all, when has the U.S. government ever been wrong? I’m Arab-American. My family is from Syria, but I was born in the United States.
I think part of me always knew I wanted to be more than friends, but in an attempt to avoid the emotional impaling that often comes with trusting another flawed human being, I kept the burgeoning feelings to myself. It wasn’t until she offered me socks that I realized I was in love with her. We were sitting on the edge of her ratty green couch, legs touching, our slush-ridden boots strewn across the carpet. My teeth were still audibly chattering from the cold (or maybe from sitting in close proximity to her?), an involuntary mannerism, more nettlesome than painful. “Do you want a fresh pair of socks?” she asked with a solicitous hand on my arm.
Starbucks never gets my name wrong: bold and thick, the four letters written with the sharpie mark my Cinnamon Chai Latte with comforting exactitude. My mother hated her name, could not bear the length of it, the excessive r’s and the harshness of the t, or maybe because of the fact that it was two names stitched together. For me, she wanted something short, the smoothness of the bilabial consonant, the bright ringing of vowels; she liked the literariness to it and its universality. It is impossible to mispronounce, to be corrupted by accents or unconventional variations or too many confusing syllables. During my exchange year in Maine, my little host brother used to spell it “Ma,” because “M is pronounced Em, and a is pronounced a.” Like the clarity of a crystal, it was simple and immediate.
The most visited art museum in the world is the Louvre; it amassed 9.3 million visitors in 2014. Among other European museums, such as the Orsay, Prado, British museums and even the Vatican, it is best known as a center of Western art and culture. These museums are often seen as emblems of European identity, central to defining art as a part of culture in Europe. Of course, most of these museums house art from around the world, which, especially with concerns about repatriation, becomes a complicated issue. Just a couple of days ago, Spain and Argentina agreed to give Ecuador hundreds of works from colonial and indigenous periods.