My Invisible Knapsack

January 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

One the way back to my office after class, I thought about some of the items in my invisible knapsack.

Because I have no physical disabilities, I am able to assume that I can go anywhere I want in the world with no physical obstacles or barriers. When I enter a bathroom, I can assume there will be several stalls available to me, and on occasion if there’s a line, I’ll use the stall marked for disabled people. I can also assume that people don’t look at me with pity or shame because of a visible disability.
Because I am a cis-gender woman, I never have to worry whether someone will misread my gender at work or in other public venues. (Not sure what cis-gender means? Check here.) I also never have to worry that people assume that they know my sexuality based on how I dress, wear my hair, or other outward appearances.
Because I am a light-skinned black woman, my black family and black community don’t denigrate my beauty or tell me I’m “too dark.” When I see black films or music videos, most often women portrayed as “beautiful” have a skin tone similar to mine.
Because I am an American, I can assume that many places I travel in the world, especially as a tourist, that I will be treated with more respect than the people who are from that place.
Because I am a native English speaker in the US, I can assume that my intelligence will not be questioned simply because I have an accent.
Because I am a Purdue professor, I can assume that my status will ensure better treatment and more respect at stores, restaurants, and other businesses in the area. (This class privilege often helps me deal with my experiences of oppression and discrimination because of my other identities — such as race or gender)

Prof. David

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