I am a white male from a small village in North Wales, UK. I married a white American female. I am a step-parent of a young child with whom I get along very well; we are a very close family who always strives to support each other unconditionally in any way possible.
Being Welsh, I was born within the NHS (National Health Service). The NHS personally provided me with a normal life free of many medical complications and bills often associated with diastrophic dysplasia, a rare and complicated form of dwarfism. My parents were able to live and provide on a single income while my mother spent a lot of my childhood with me while I had numerous surgeries, suffering from no financial burden or medical bills thanks to the NHS.
Even though I have mostly been living in a small country which is mostly white, I was raised to respect everyone and treat people equally, no matter their walk of life. I have been blessed to have many opportunities in life, things I thought I’d never do, including being on TV, owning and operating my own small business, working with other small businesses, and traveling internationally. I may not have always lived a life of luxury, but what I’ve had is a lot more than many people.
Issues I don’t face but many do
Rarely am I ever confronted with any form of judgement. I have tattoos, piercings, and occasionally even have bright hair. And sure, some people may comment and be stereotypical or make generalizations about me due to my looks. But once folks get to know me personally, even skeptics tend to get past those judgments. For a lot of people this isn’t as easy. There are people in my country who are confronted with judgement every day due to living in such a small and conservative area. People of color, LGBTQ+ folks, those with invisible disabilities, those who practice particular religions, and immigrants all face struggles I have never and with which I will never deal.
As a disabled person, I am lucky to be able to work independently for myself as well as help provide for my family. However, it isn’t uncommon for disabled people to struggle to find work and provide. Among many inequalities in the workplace, businesses don’t like going out of their way to make work premises accessible because it requires money, time, and resources they aren’t usually willing to spare. Also, in many cases, you’ll find that disabled people have legal limitations in the workplace, restricting the amount of time they are allowed to work, and their income; yes, this means businesses are legally obligated to pay a disabled person LESS than (often less than half, actually) minimum wage.
I recognise my bigotry but I am working on it
Even though I have opened my eyes in ways I had not before, I still have a long way to go. Sometimes I get my gender pronouns wrong, unintentionally, because it’s something I am actively un-learning. I still sometimes judge others for being different without even thinking ahead because it is something I have grown up doing. I don’t experience the circumstances of people of color, LGBTQ+, immigrants, and others go through on a regular basis. I am ignorant because my nature thus far in my life has been to ignore what “doesn’t concern myself” when actually, it should absolutely concern me. It’s a lesson I am learning by being in and around people who are different from me, who experience these racial slurs and disrespectful opinions and inequalities on a daily basis.
Recognising my privileges
I recognise that I am inherently privileged by things such as my skin colour, gender, and access to healthcare. These privileges have been with me from birth and are not granted by my own effort or wealth. I strive to use these privileges to be a voice of reason to those who may not understand or have the same privileges as myself.
This post originally appeared on Little Philz and was reproduced with permission.