However, I also believe that there are costs to being privileged. And I hope that understanding those costs will contribute to the conversation about the systems of oppression that harm well-being.
When I was in my mid-twenties I worked in an office at UC San Francisco. One of my co-workers was a gay man living with AIDS who had been shunned by his father when he came out. As Paul told me some of his story, he talked about being proud of the life he made for himself--most especially for having finished college. He said it was something that no one could ever take from him and it clearly gave him a deep sense of dignity. His eyes shone as he spoke and I understood that he would die more peacefully because of this accomplishment.
I was stunned because, while I also had a college degree (actually by then I had two), I wasn’t the slightest bit proud of my education. In my mind and heart college was a hoop that I jumped through, a baseline expectation no more worthy of pride than finishing 4th grade. After some reflection I realized the cost of having college-educated parents (who assumed I would sail through higher education) was a lack of pride in my personal accomplishment. It was seen as ordinary, though I had worked hard to achieve it.
Even as I share this story I question my entire premise that there is a cost to privilege. Something still feels true about that idea but I can tell I’m still missing something. I’m going to keep wrestling with the question until I have more clarity about the answer. I think Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs) might hold some insight.