This week has been just really long. 12-hour work days and I still feel behind. It is frustrating since it leaves no time for anything else but all the same, I know that I am extremely privileged to be in my position.
In the morning, I had to visit the laundromat to dry my son’s school uniform and basketball jersey. And I was passed, at 5 am, by a group of Chinese women, returning from their nightshift at a local factory. They live together, work together, shop together, always wearing colourful cloth surgical masks and baseball caps.
I have never had to work in a factory at night, never had a visa that guaranteed I would be here just to labor away for minuscule wages only to be sent back home after my “internship” was finished.
In the laundromat, I watch the video from Phoenix. All four of my children have accidentally taken things from a store in the past but I had the privilege of returning the stolen goods without being threatened with a bullet to my head.
I am working long hours because my regular planning time has been consumed by preparations for the big open classroom event we have today as well as the day-long promotional event we are hosting for kindergarten students on Saturday. My coworker fusses a lot about everything but I know that no matter what I do, I am still working at a private school in a beautiful and mostly safe land where all I am expected to do, essentially, is to show up and help students understand my mother tongue.
I am lucky, so very, very lucky.
Of course, what does it mean, to be lucky? I am in the position I am in because doors were open to me based upon the circumstances of my birth. The color of my skin, the language that I grew up immersed in, the country that issued my passport; these were not elements I deserved or earned but rather happen to find myself in. To say I am lucky is to suggest that those born in different circumstances are unlucky. So let’s remove that insincere statement up there, a hallmark of gratitude, that corporate-driven self-oppressing nonsense: I am not lucky. There is no luck, there is only a spectrum of privilege. Even those born into famine are positioned on the spectrum for there is always someone flanking them on either side, someone a shade better off and worse off.
I do not feel guilty for my position on the spectrum. It is just how it is but all the same, it is important to be aware that it is a spectrum and a socially constructed one at that. I take full advantage of my position so I can raise my kids with food in their bellies and a roof over their heads. I am not ashamed of that but as someone in a healthier position, I am responsible for helping to destroy the spectrum. We all are, no luck required.