What’s a Privileged, White Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?

GUEST BLOG by Margaret Snow

I think about my privilege a lot.  Privilege.  It’s the word of the times, isn’t it?  I think about the zip code in which I was raised, my skin color somewhere between white and peach if I were a Crayola crayon, my financial resources should I not be employed (and yes, I’ve tapped into those resources as I’ve had the luxury of not working more than once in my life).

And this makes me cringe.

Embarrassment and bewilderment has been built upon a foundation of gratitude for my fortunate predicament.  Why me?  Why am I allowed to reap benefits just handed to me based on my family situation, the seaside town flanked by Cypress trees in which I was raised, and the color of my skin.

Life. Is. Arbitrary.

And I think about what I can do about this arbitrary life to which each of us is born, running the gamut of lives from poverty to great wealth — a span I feel that is breaking this country.  What can I do from this station in life which I’ve basically inherited in a country riddled with economic injustice, the largest gap between the rich and the poor in American history, and a nation which feels perhaps more segregated than ever before with a revolution brewing?

What can I do about it?  And what am I not doing about it?

By night, I think about who’s invited to my table and vice-versa when it’s dinner time. I’ll tell you who.  It’s still the people from my chi-chi childhood zip code, buddies from my college days where we all looked like we came out of a low-budget J. Crew ad, my neighbors in my affluent Bay Area neighborhood where PhDs and stock options are rampant whilst Black Lives Matter posters are peppered throughout town.  And we residents think that gesture suffices…

I can do better than that.

By day, I work for an organization committed to social justice around closing the opportunity divideYear Up & Year Up Professional Resources.

Year Up is a brilliant business solution to a social need in this country.  And it’s sixteen years strong now in twenty locations around the country.  Year Up recognizes that opportunities and access to economic empowerment are actually institutionalized by-products of our nation’s history and segregational practices. Not right or fair, is it?  Nor is it working out too well for this country.  Year Up is a response to this problem.

By providing the runway for talented young adults who lack the access and exposure to corporate America, Year Up and YUPRO are teaching skills to young adults, unleashing the great talent that lies within them while they earn internships at companies around the nation.  AND Corporate America’s managers are learning management and inclusion skills as well, as the face of the workplace finally shifts.

So what’s a privileged, white girl doing in a place like Year Up?

What everyone else is doing here…closing the opportunity divide.

Now on to dinner…