The Concept of Privilege

God, what a time to be alive guys. 2020 has been a flurry of emotions to the point where I don’t really even know how to accurately identify what I’m feeling anymore. The past week especially has weighed heavily, and it can’t help but feel like things are coming to a head. I haven’t said much because, quite frankly, I simply don’t feel that I can do the topic any justice.

But I have been reading, and watching, and paying close attention. This is an important moment in history for all of us. What we do right now, every single one of us… it matters.

Please… I Can't Breathe - Woodland Hills Church

While I still don’t think that I can do the topic any justice whatsoever, I have enjoyed reading what everyone else has to say, both inside and outside of the equestrian realm. A few bloggers have tackled the issue well, and I particularly enjoyed Nadia’s perspective. The Chronicle published an column on white privilege, which I thought had some good thinking points. Eventing Nation made a light mention yesterday of the existing racial divide by linking to a piece published by Heels Down back in April. But what really got to me was reading the facebook comments to these articles, particularly the COTH one… it was enough to make me want to walk away from social media for a while, to be honest. It proved just how deep the problem really goes, and just how alive and well racism really is even in the horse world. It’s ugly when you peel back the curtain. What people were saying made me feel a strange (to me) combination of outrage, devastation, and extreme discomfort.

But that’s part of the point isn’t it? We SHOULD be feeling all those things. Our society is broken and what we’re seeing now is the result. It is upsetting, and it is uncomfortable. Many of us, like myself, are privileged enough to where we don’t have to sit with that discomfort 24/7. We have the option to put down our phones, log off of our computers, and ta-da it pretty much ceases to exist. If that’s not the very definition of privilege, I’m not sure what is. Large groups of people never get to turn those feelings off.

So what have I learned so far in these past few days?

I’ve learned that there are A LOT of people (particularly horse people, it seems) who don’t understand the difference between financial privilege and racial privilege. And to those who say “anyone could work hard and do what I did” – clearly you are not paying attention to the myriad ways that our society has been designed to suppress and exclude minorities.

I’ve learned that what I was taught in school about our history, particularly during the Civil Rights movement, was incomplete at best. Boy did they conveniently leave some things out of our curriculum. Boy did they sugarcoat and idealize a whole lot.

I’ve learned that 1) you should never haul anywhere without Waze on, particularly during a period of civil unrest, so you can avoid putting yourself or your horses in a bad situation, but 2) if you do happen to find yourself stuck with a trailer in the middle of a crowd of devastated, outraged people, perhaps brandishing a firearm and trying to force your way through should be your LAST resort. We really should be taught as a society how to deescalate situations… the American way seems to be brute force and a bigger gun, and clearly that ain’t working very well for any of us. (tends to be true with horses too, perhaps we are more like them than we think)

I’ve learned that a surprising number of people didn’t have a word to say about the murder of yet another black man, but have a lot to say about protesting.


I’ve learned that for as much as I want to unfriend or unfollow people who don’t see things my way, it’s important (to me anyway) to not just shut myself off from those who think differently than I do. I need to understand why they feel the way they do, because I think the only way forward is to understand how we got here in the first place. Where have we gone wrong? How do we fix this, once and for all? Granted, I admit that I have a limit. If you say “black people get killed by other black people more than they do by white people” or “if they weren’t so lazy they could have what I have” I just freaking cannot and yes I’ve unfollowed a few people because of those exact statements. Point of view is one thing, morality is another.

But at the end of the day most of my social media friends are equestrians, and I’ve learned just how damn out of touch many of us really are, myself included, likely because of our privilege. Most of us live in a different world, and it shows.

The real question is what do we do now? Truthfully I don’t know. I think this looks different for everyone. Some people may be out there on the front lines of the protests. Some people might be donating to worthy causes. Some people might be sharing their experiences. Some people are standing in virtual solidarity and anxiously awaiting election day. Some are doing all of the above. I don’t think there’s a wrong approach, as long as you’re doing something.

For as tempting as it was yesterday for me to just put all my devices away and hide from everything for a while, I’ve forced myself to stay with it. I’ve forced myself to keep scrolling and reading and watching. It’s important, to me, to bear witness. It’s important, to me, to understand as fully as I can. It’s important, to me, to acknowledge my privilege and figure out what I can do with it. It’s important, to me, to be uncomfortable and upset and outraged and to sit in all those feelings. I don’t have the answers, but I’m here to learn. I don’t know what to say, but I know that it feels wrong to say nothing at all.

If you have any good links or causes (or books or documentaries or podcasts – anything) that you’d like to share, please drop them in the comments, I would love to see them and have a collection of resources in one place.

50 thoughts on “The Concept of Privilege

  1. I am not sure if the following article is quite what you had in mind in, but since you mentioned the topic of diversity as it relates to the equestrian world, I have included the link below. It is a short article I wrote after learning about the new book “Compton Cowboys- The New Generation of Cowboys in Americas Urban Heartland”. I am still waiting to actually read the book unfortunately. I requested that my local library purchase the book and am waiting for the library to make it available to patrons. You can read the article on the Horse Nation website at


  2. “I don’t know what to say, but I know that it feels wrong to say nothing at all.” This.

    I’ve lost track of the number of resources I’ve read and the copious number of linked accounts I’ve clicked through in the past 24 hours. But this morning, Davida’s post had a fairly comprehensive list of many of the resources I’ve been reading. I linked it on my blog and will link again here:

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amanda, I feel exactly the same as you and you did an excellent job of expressing your thoughts. I have no more answers to add. I will only say that I am a white woman of privilege. I grew up in the south, in the 60’s, and witnessed a lot of racism. It was everywhere and quite open. Then, it slowly became not so politically correct. It never went away, it just went underground with winks, nods and code for words no longer considered ‘polite’. Then, we got a presidential candidate who played on that and brought it back out into the open and stoked the flames until we are where we are today. While we cannot hold people accountable for their hate, we CAN hold them accountable for their actions but to do that, we need to elect leadership who will take firm action for violence against people of color rather than fan the flames.


  4. Dang. You hit the bullseye again Amanda. Thank you for articulating what is gurgling inside me. Sharing this one for sure.


  5. They’re Louisiana centered, but I will ALWAYS recommend Dialogue on Race when the topics of racism and especially white privilege come up. They examine institutional racism through facilitated dialogue and assigned readings. Their approach, IMO gives white people a start to the toolbox and lenses that they need to better understand and approach institutional racism, white privilege, and the world that we live in.


  6. This is going to be jumbled because I’m struggling to articulate everything that I’ve been thinking over the past several days.

    The last few days have proved once again that social media comments show the worst in people. Reading the comments in the Sophie Gochman/COTH column just show that people latch on to one thing and possibly miss the entire point of article. For example, she is privileged so therefore unless she gives up her privilege/money she has no leg to stand on. The thing is, as a white teenager, she will always have privilege. She can’t change that.

    Yesterday, my director called a virtual town hall/open forum to allow people to openly discuss the current events. As a black man in a position of power in higher ed (he is known nationally in his field), he acknowledge his privilege too. And we had difficult conversations about race with both black, white, and brown colleagues. People discussed race and racism and allies and there was an emphasis that the opposite of racist isn’t not racist but anti-racist. And I think that’s important for all of us to remember. We all have our biases and our experiences but we can and should learn to be anti-racist. We can read, we can ask question, and if we say the wrong thing, we apologize and learn and correct that mistake. My black colleagues emphasized that they need their white colleagues as allies because they can’t fight alone. They’re tired, they’re hurt, and they need help. They ask that the rest of us have the difficult conversations as best we can because our privilege allows us to. They also acknowledge that all of them in the (virtual room) are privileged to be having this conversation in positions in academia where they are (relatively) secure.

    Which brings me back to the COTH column. Sophie was tackling difficult concepts that most people in her position. How many of us are putting ourselves out there on a public platform like that? It’s OK not to agree with everything she has said. But instead of taking the parts of it that are good and letting go of the rest, people attack because privilege allows us to.

    Completely jumbled and I didn’t articulate that well, but hopefully I got some of that out.

    A couple links being shared across my workplace:


  7. I think that just talking about it and acknowledging our privilege is at least a start. I too have started following many more people of color (not just black) on social media to at least try to get better perspective. I’ve had some actually fruitful conversations with people who have opposing viewpoints from mine this week that gave me hope. For me, baby steps are where I feel like I can achieve the most change in my life. Engaging regularly, reading and listening to things that challenge my comfort zone, talking to people with dissimilar and similar viewpoints, actually listening to real experiences. I don’t think violence and destruction are going to be fruitful for anyone, but I absolutely can see why they feel rage and act on it.
    My city had a curfew last night and does for the next two nights. I can’t even believe it. I grew up with the utmost of white privilege bc there were NO people of color in my town. Like maybe 5-10 families weren’t white. It is slightly more diverse there now, but when Rodney King was beaten it was so far away from me. Now it feels so much more real because I’m so much closer to it and I want to learn from that, not hide from it. I can be better.


  8. This book was recommended to me and I ordered it from Amazon yesterday:

    I’m really struggling right now with knowing what to do that will actually make a difference (besides voting, which I did this morning).


  9. I have been reading up on what’s happening in the US ever since the protests started. The silence of my american friends and acquaintances was deafening. Until a horse trailer got involved.
    Where was their outrage for the death of yet another innocent black man at the hands of a cop?
    From prior discussions I have learned that many still see this as seperate, unrelated incidents. They fail or don’t want to see how deep-rooted and systemic racism is.
    Not only in the US, but in Europe, Australia and New Zealand as well.
    And don’t get me started on the subject of white privilege..
    It is exhausting and disheartening. I want to shut everything off and just not deal right now… and then I think about the many people of colour who never get a moment of peace,who deal with micro aggressions and overt racism every single day of their life. How exhausting must their life be. I will never understand but I can shut up and learn. Or amplify the voices of POC whereever I have the opportunity.
    Thank you for this post, Amanda.


  10. Maybe this isn’t even relevant, I don’t know. People will probably think this is odd … but anyway it’s right in front of us …

    Evidence of what I’ve always believed is a deep racism in the white horse culture is the invisibility of one of the oldest traditions in Texas, the black cowboy. There is a whole world of black cowboys that so many, perhaps most, white horse people have never heard of. Or if they know, they ignore it. Except for maybe a short stint of training by a black cowboy to take the rough off a bucker. And maybe making dismissive remarks – there’s a standard list of dismissive remarks always to hand.

    Why is there so little white interest in traditional black rodeos and horse gatherings? And rather disturbing to think of, why does the black cowboy culture feel more comfortable staying under the radar of white horse culture?

    Here we are in the year 2020, and that’s a divide among horse people that I wonder if will ever be bridged.

    Horses seem to be one of the most segregated universes there is in American culture today. Just thinking about the chasmic racial divides in American horse culture is depressing.


  11. I have so many thoughts and emotions on this. My sister is married to a wonderful black man and I have 2 mixes nieces. The the thought of what they have to go through or might have to worries me so so much every day. In a way I am glad for the chaos because it has to happen for change to come, but it also scares me. My heart aches for the US right now, although Canada has its share of racism we are not reacting the way you guys are.


  12. Here are some resources I’m using to educate myself more, in addition to some of the actions that Liza posted in that Medium article.
    -A list of books from, all profits going to Black Lives Matter Global Network –
    -A list of black-owned online bookstores –
    -Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad is a workbook/challenge that I’m trying to get a copy of.


      1. Annnd one more comment. A friend just shared a list of 5 Netflix series/documentaries from Instagram that I’m definitely adding to my list:
        1. Explained: The Racial Wealth Gap
        2. Time: The Kalief Browder Story
        3. When They See Us
        4. 13th
        5. Who Killed Malcolm X
        List originally posted on Instagram by @unity.celeste

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I have been following you for ages and never comment, the world needs to heed this.

    It is problematic to turn a issue into a personal issue as it is “uncomfortable” to comprehend racial privilege. Tough pill for those to admit they were born on 3rd base due to the simple fact of their skin color (nothing to do with personal action or inaction) and yet “can’t make a home run” .

    Thank you, Amanda for your eloquent words.


  14. This book has been around for a while, and is a good start: A People’s History of the United States. Read it just out of high school. Promptly (drunk) called my US history teacher to ask how he could justify teaching that curriculum, which was required to graduate, and blatantly promoted racism.

    Also – a lot of progress could be made if people would make a habit of looking at things from the perspective of the person they are – judging, fighting with, oppressing… Sadly the immediacy of social media doesn’t seem to promote that kind of reflection.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. We can’t just put a band-aid on this. To stop white privilege we need to start in the inner cities. We need to get programs in place to help the disenfranchised have a chance to improve their situations. There are so many things to consider….gangs attack others that try to improve their situation. There was a young man that was going to go to college. He was walking home from the library and was killed in a drive-by shooting. He was a “Uncle Tom”. There is so much crime in the inner cities. There is so much hopelessness…..

    I have worked in the inner city doing environmental work to approve sites for businesses. One was a grocery store. Some people, sitting at a bus stop, asked what was going to be built at the location. When I told them a grocery store they were all ecstatic. Then I saw a couple get off the bus with a bunch of groceries, and they still had to walk.

    I do not agree with tuition forgiveness or free health insurance. That is just more white privilege. People in the inner city don’t have school loans or insurance. Take that money and put it in the inner cities. Clean up the crime. Bring businesses back to the inner cities-grocery stores, pharmacies, auto repair shops, etc. Stuff your white privileged asses take for granted. Provide birth control for people that cannot afford to bring another child into the world. Give them back their dignity.

    If you clean up the crime, get rid of the gangs, people won’t be worried about a cop harassing them. Oh, and go on a police ride along in the inner city. I did. That is a real eye opener. They have no idea what they are walking up to when they approach a car. Think about that. While I hate hearing of another rogue cop, I don’t have the answers. Let the justice system prevail.

    I am a white conservative. I grew up poor and went to high school in the inner city where I was the minority. I do environmental work and most of my co-workers would not go into the inner city. But they are the first to point out white privilege. If I sound angry, it is because I am. I have been on sites where our job trailer was shot at. I was out in an empty lot with a car driving around the block blaring a rap song the kept saying “I hate white people”. I had people tell me not to stay there, but I did and completed the job. I am not writing this to pat myself on the back but to emphasize that if you really care, if you really want to do something, stop just reading about it and talking about it. DO SOMETHING!


    1. May I ask what makes you think that none of us are doing anything? Do you need people to list everything they’ve done as some kind of “proof” or gross self-indulgence? No matter what I have already done, no matter what any of us have do, it will never be enough until this problem is completely rooted out. We MUST continue to keep our eyes and ears open, continue to strive to understand, and continue to learn from those around us, especially as the situation evolves.

      The thing is, if someone wants to do MORE (as I do, and as most people I know do) first they have to understand as much as possible, so that they can know what to do and where they in particular can be of the most benefit. Many of the links include ways to help, both short term and long term.

      I don’t disagree with the “do something” sentiment at all, don’t get me wrong. Of course we all have to do something, that’s the entire point. But please don’t discount the very important first step of self-education. There’s no use in a blind reactionary “DO SOMETHING” if you don’t first understand what you’re trying to do, why, and how.

      I am happy that you already have all the answers you need for yourself. Many of us though are still works in progress. Since you have so much experience with these issues perhaps you would like to drop some links, or your suggestions for the best ways that people can help? Instead of just telling people to do something, maybe suggest what you think they should/could do?


      1. I agree with what you have said Amanda. I didn’t mean to come off that way…it is just very frustrating. However, I thought I did make suggestions. Help the inner city. Eliminate gangs. Contact your representatives to make this a priority. Stop asking for free tuition and insurance until we have helped the poor to have education, insurance, food, hope. Bring businesses back to the inner city.

        Here is a link regarding the terrible tragedy.


        1. Can you tell us how you would go about accomplishing these things? Those are very wide-sweeping “to do’s” that most people will know where to begin with, aside from voting, and things that I think most of us already have a conceptual knowledge of. Do you have any suggestions that are more specific, things that are doable right now for an individual person?


        2. Laura, I think you’re missing a huge piece of the puzzle. When you say “If you clean up the crime, get rid of the gangs, people won’t be worried about a cop harassing them.”
          This is just not true.
          A black man will worry about being harassed by the cops until society changes. Until being black is no longer a reason for getting pulled over.
          I appreciate your sentiment, but this has less to do with crime in the inner city and far more to do with deep rooted, systemic injustice against people of color.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. I’m not understanding the point of this link? I don’t think violence in big cities is news to any of us, it is the symptom of a much deeper societal problem.

            The question at hand here is what can we (the privileged) do to help improve the lives of black Americans, eradicate racism, reform our government to prevent the suppression of minorities, and prevent police brutality – right now and today. In other words, how can we begin to use our white privilege to end white privilege.


          2. Sorry, I think you are all missing a piece of the puzzle because you don’t have a clue what the inner city is like. I am sorry if I offended anyone. I was just trying to show the other side…the desperation. And Nadia, if crime is cleaned up, society changes. Don’t kill the messenger.


            1. And why exactly do you think there’s crime in the first place?

              If I may be totally honest with you Laura, I believe your real intention here was not to be helpful or offer wisdom via your own supposed experience, but rather to promote a thinly veiled “black on black crime is the real problem” stance. If I’m correct in that interpretation, please see your way out permanently. It will not be tolerated here. If I’m mistaken in my interpretation, please do what I’ve asked for multiple times now and provide your suggestions for REAL, actionable ways (not grand ideas) that people can help right now.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. You end white privilege by giving people in the inner city hope….to make it so they don’t live in fear….to make it where buying groceries or going to the pharmacy isn’t an all day dangerous chore. I didn’t say this is an easy thing or we can fix it over night. It can’t be fixed overnight. This will be a work in progress and it starts now with us. I am not attacking any of you. I am just trying to help.


                  1. Who’s ignorance, exactly? You’re going in a lot of random circles here and so far have yet to get to a point that isn’t a dressed-up version of blaming black people for their own problems.

                    Liked by 2 people

                    1. I think perhaps Laura’s ignorance is showing.
                      You know what would help black people not live in fear? Not getting murdered because they went for a run. Or were walking with a hoodie on. Or because a counterfeit bill was found in the register. Do you know who are killing these people for doing these innocent things Laura? White men. Perhaps they need some education too, no?

                      Liked by 2 people

                    2. I do not blame black people for their problems. Not. at. all. You said ” In other words, how can we begin to use our white privilege to end white privilege.” How about we forget about white privilege and help the inner city people, who are both black and white. And another thing I hate is, if we don’t want to be racist, how about we quit categorizing people as African American, Caucasian, American Indian… How about just saying we are people? Why do we have to have categorized into races? And yes, I am rambling.


                    3. This is not a post about the inter city. This is a post about racism, and police brutality, against black people in particular. Black people do not all live in the inner city. This is a problem that extends EVERYWHERE, not just one place. You’re completely off topic, and I have a feeling that’s for a reason.

                      And oh good, now we’ve gotten to the “i don’t see color” part of this performance. You’re one breath away from “All Lives Matter”, and if you don’t know why that’s such a problem then I suggest you educate yourself.

                      Let me be abundantly clear: THIS POST IS ABOUT RACISM IN AMERICA, WHITE PRIVILEGE, AND THE MURDER OF YET ANOTHER INNOCENT BLACK MAN. That is the entire topic. Full stop.

                      To be honest Laura I think you’re done here. I’ve given you a lot of chances to climb out of that hole you’ve been digging since comment 1 and by now your true intentions are exceedingly obvious. If you want to debate this topic, take it elsewhere. This post is for sharing resources to self-educate or for suggestions on real ways to help. You have contributed neither of those things. In fact, you have contributed absolutely nothing of value to this discussion and clearly don’t intend to. Despite being asked multiple times, you have offered no real actionable ideas. Instead you have pointed to black on black crime and “inner city violence” as the root of the problem in the black community. That very premise ALONE is incredibly insulting and ignorant on so many levels, I don’t even quite know where to start. Congratulations, you are part of the problem.

                      This is not your platform, it’s mine, and I WILL NOT allow that kind of rhetoric here. Kindly see your way out, and please take the time to look through some of the resources that other people have linked to here. They might do you a lot of good. Goodbye.

                      Liked by 2 people

              1. Also, newsflash: not all black people live in the inner city. Not all of these murders of innocent blacks people have occurred in the inner city either. This signals a wider problem.


            3. BTW Laura, my middle school was in the inner city. Rode the bus there every day. Got to see all kinds of things and make a wide variety of friends that I would not have otherwise. But thanks for making assumptions regarding what people have a clue about.

              Liked by 1 person

            4. Racism exists everywhere not just your small world of inner cities. A black friend of mine who is a PhD from and Ivy League has experienced blatant racism while hosting a party in the multimillion dollar home SHE owns.

              It is people like you that justify they have all the answers to remain in their small self righteous bubble.

              I, too, am a white, wealthy, (quasi conservative – I am very very very libertarian and would love to have a completely capitalist society governed only by input from the intellectual elite).

              You could use some mind expansion and maybe a second life as a person of color and see how nicely your life works out. White minority in a situation is still not a minority.

              Best of luck, in your endeavors and I hope you are able to sleep soundly at night knowing that you have unlocked the puzzle!


              1. I don’t really have anything else to add beyond what’s already been said in response to Laura’s inane commentary, but it makes me sick to think we can white savoir complex our way out of this. WE need to give inner city communities hope!? WTF. I also grew up in an inner city. I moved into an inner city after college on purpose. White people showing up all missionary, white-lady-bountiful style is the opposite of helpful. We need to stop racists in their tracks, not hang “live laugh love” signs in store windows. SMDH.

                Liked by 1 person

  16. Thank you for posting this! To the previous (and rather rude) commenter, it baffles me that you would spend so much time yelling about the need to self-educate without providing a single useful link. Perhaps there is more work to be done with regards to your approach?

    For anyone interested in medical history or in current strategies for protesting as safely as possible during a pandemic, check out the latest episode of the Sawbones podcast:

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thank you for posting this and for trying to understand.

    As a Latina living in the US (I am Puerto Rican), I’ve been speaking out against the pervasiveness of white racism and prejudice since Trump won the election, when I was told I was “overreacting” over the fact that a man that had clearly and openly used racist rhetoric in his rallies had just become president of the United States. I might be able to “blend in” in the wintertime when my skin is lighter, but I have most certainly experienced a side of American life that most white people will never get to experience. Even with my lighter skin color and “good English” I am still classified as PoC. I learned only recently that in the US, anyone who is not an English-only-speaking white is considered PoC: Asians, Native Americans, Indians, Middle Eastern people, Latinos, Pacific Islanders, etc, as well as those of African origin. The divide between white Americans and the rest of the Americans of different ethnic backgrounds living in this country is far greater than white Americans realize. I started writing about all of this in my old equestrian blog and continued on writing (sometimes raging) about it in my new one of the same name. And while I foretold that all of what is happening now would happen when this president was elected, I’m glad white people are finally, finally, FINALLY sitting up and listening, REALLY listening, and looking inwards. It’s a start. It’s a start that I hope will hold, a start that I hope will permanently revolutionize the way in which one group of people sees other groups in this country. And especially those of darker skin.

    It’s hard. it’s been really hard to watch this coming to a head and no one doing a thing to stop it. But now people are finally moving and seeing that shift, the speaking up, the voices uniting…it feels like I can finally exhale a bit after holding my breath for the past 3 years.

    As for how to help, simple empathy is a fantastic tool. Calm, Forward, Straight said it well above: …”– a lot of progress could be made if people would make a habit of looking at things from the perspective of the person they are – judging, fighting with, oppressing…”

    Thank you again for this post. ❤


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