How to use our privilege for good

November 1, 2018

I was raised in an upper middle-class town outside of Chicago. I walked a few blocks to elementary school when I was younger with my friends, not having to worry about my safety every step I took. I played park district sports and took dance classes with all my friends from school. But I was Asian, and they were white.

Of course, I was extremely lucky to grow up in a home where I did not have to worry about where my next meal would be coming from or how I could get to and from school safely. But, being an Asian American, I am technically still a minority population in the United States and oppressed like many groups of people.

People of my nationality are often overlooked as being oppressed because we seem to have everything—the smarts, the money—but we are still ridiculed like any other colored population, oftentimes being asked if I eat dogs or made fun of for my “Asian eyes.”

Yes, these are probably all jokes for the fun of banter but a lot of people take offense to this. Nevertheless, I consider myself privileged.

Just being able to attend college, we as students are privileged. We have the opportunity to spend years at a top-ranked university to study, earn degrees and make it big in the workforce. We live so close to Boston, an amazing city with endless opportunity. We are so very privileged.

But not everyone is granted this opportunity. Through a few of my classes and even attending oh-so-many events for other sections of the newspaper, I realized just how privileged I was. I have a life so much easier than many, which is unfair because people cannot choose the life that they come into.

So I started to ponder. What could I do with the power and privilege that I have at my fingertips? I should be doing more with what I have, right? Just so that nothing goes to waste. So I decided to do something.

If you’ve looked at a few of my previous opinions pieces, it is very obvious that I’m very invested in the climate change movement and making our world more sustainable, in any little way that I could. People often overlook climate change; I always hear the complaint, “Oh, I’ll probably be dead by the time that climate change will really do anything harmful.” But, my friends, this is so untrue.

According to an article released by The Guardian, the authors of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that we as a world need to take serious measures to keep our temperature increase between 1.5 and two degrees Celsius to maintain the promises stated in the Paris Agreement.

If the temperature is raised too much, we risk melting more of the ice caps that have not been melted already, eliminating the habitat for many species. This increase in sea levels will also cause island nations to sink further and deeper into the waters, making them virtually unliveable.

So what can you do to stop this? Every action is one step towards a solution. For one thing, take a few extra seconds after you’ve eaten in Upper Usdan or a non-dining hall to sort your trash! It’s honestly one of the easiest things you can do to make a difference.

The wrappers that sandwiches from SubConnections come in have to go in the trash because there is wax on the wrapper, which is not recyclable. The bowls that your salads and burrito bowls from Currito’s come in are compostable, fun fact. Just taking a second to compost any leftovers and sort your trash will do so much.

But a word for the wise, if you’re not sure about where to sort your trash, PUT IT IN THE TRASH CAN. Yes, it is sad that something that might be recyclable or compostable is ending up in a landfill, but if just one piece of trash is found in the recycling bag is not recyclable, the entire bag is put in trash. Just be cautious, and if you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

Another major topic that we can utilize our privilege for: voting! Go vote! We as legal adults of the U.S. have the right and privilege to have the ability to vote. Defending your point of view in an argument with your friend only goes so far; voting in the elections makes a difference.

Yes, you are just one person, and yes, you may think that your vote does not matter at all in the grand scheme of things, but that’s simply not true. Just like the quote, “It takes just one person to change the world,” it is so true. One vote can make a huge difference.

So I urge you to go vote in the upcoming election this upcoming Tuesday, Nov. 6, in whatever state you represent. The time for absentee voting has since closed, but sign up for the next election! I filled out my absentee ballot as soon as I had the opportunity and fulfilled my civic duty to vote.

Even though I am personally not a resident of Massachusetts, the ballot in the upcoming election has some very serious questions that young people need to vote on! As a generation that is challenging the commonalities that society has put before us, it’s time for us to voice our opinion and make the changes that we keep speaking of. Campaigns such as “Vote Yes on 3” give people all across Massachusetts, the freedom to be proud of whom they are and express their gender identity without fear of discrimination.

Privilege is something that a lot of people take for granted. Please don’t. A little privilege goes such a long way, so use that privilege to help someone that may not be as privileged and give them the opportunity to be as privileged as you.

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