How Does It Affect Al Franken?
When my mother was 22 years old the only “fare” we could afford was welfare. At the time my mama had four children and my father was in prison. Now I tell students of mine who are complaining because they don’t have enough money to get their hair done, or are lacking money to go downtown to drink about the early days of my youth and they look at me as if to say, “My, your family had it tough, but what does that have to do with me?” I then have to ask myself, what does it have to do with them? The question itself takes me back to one of my favorite moments in television history, when Saturday Night Live political commentator Al Franken would listen to some of the most heinous or horrendous world tragedies or atrocities and always follow with his most biting query, “How does that affect me, Al Franken?”
Is it our responsibility to be thankful for what we’ve got? Do we have to appreciate our privilege, or is built into the notion of privilege a level of inconsideration as to how you acquired it? I need a woman who is ambivalent about social justice issues to educate me about how she can be so disinterested when the very fact that she is driving, working, voting, etc. is directly related to heavily orchestrated social justice efforts. I need a member of a racially underrepresented group to inform me how they can be biased, inconsiderate, or hateful towards others’ sexual orientation or disability, and yet get upset when people are racist to them? I need a man who loves and appreciates a woman, any woman (his mother, daughter, sister, female lover) to explain to me how any man can stand by and listen to other men belittle women simply because they aren’t related to them? Somebody explain to me how it is we take our various privileges for granted? I need someone to dig deep and come up with a list of some of the privileges that we take for granted that we should really be appreciating. What are they?