I have spent a lot of time recently applying for jobs. As I answer the plethora of standard application questions, I have started to realize how much privilege I have in this job-hunting process. First of all, my mother has made it very clear that if I could not find work or enough work then I can always live with her. Second, my mom and other family members support me financially, so I have never had to worry about going without gas, without paying a bill, without food or without shelter. Don’t get me wrong, I still budget, a lot. I am very careful about spending money and I always look for the cheapest deal. However, if I needed or even wanted something, all I need to do is ask. I actually have to tell my family not to buy some things because I don’t need or want them (and yet sometimes I still end up with these things.)
Aside from falling back on my family, I have a great deal of privilege. I have a college education from a ridiculously expensive university (and I only have a relatively small amount of student loans to pay back.) I could afford to pay for all that goes into getting my LSW. As someone born in the United States, I have a social security number that I can just whip out. I never have to worry about checking the US citizen box. When it comes to driving records, I never have to worry about my driving history. I don’t have a criminal record. I don’t usually have to worry what people will think or how they will react if they know that I am white or a Christian.
I am not saying that looking for a job has been a breeze. Just look at my Facebook page… you will see that I have been FREAKING OUT over how frustrating it has been to find a job and I don’t even have a job yet.
My point is this: When it is this hard to find employment with privilege, it is that much harder for individuals who because of where they were born, what family they were born into or other factors that they had no control over do not share the same privilege that I do.
When we see someone struggling to find employment, feed their kids, stay off the streets, make rent… let’s not just tell them to get a job. Instead, let’s work together to address the inequality and privilege in this country so that all people have the same opportunity to find meaningful and adequate employment.