This comic is about privilege. White privilege, class privilege, cis privilege, hetero privilege, whatever. It’s pretty much all the same. I should know, because while people who know me will attest that I’m a freak on, like, a lot of levels, to the casual observer all of that is hidden. What shows on the surface are the lucky accidents of birth. I’m super-privileged.
I think about it a lot, even if I’m not talking about it. But it happened again yesterday: I got waved through to the pre-screen security line in one of the world’s largest airports. I didn’t have to wait in line, I didn’t have to take off my shoes or my jacket or take out my computer or my phone. A guy sized me up as I took 3 steps toward him and determined I was not a security risk and forced a privilege upon me.
And it occurred to me that this happens as often as not in any big airport. I’ve gotten waved through to the special lane lots of times, and I never get pulled out for extra scrutiny. The only time my luggage has ever been searched was when I borrowed someone else’s suitcase, and unbeknownst to me, this person had left a 6-inch switchblade in the side pocket. The TSA agent pulled it out, laughed, said, “This isn’t yours is it?” and let me go.
I was caught carrying a switchblade through airport security, and the federal employee whose job it is to address crime took a single glance at me, determined I was not capable of criminal activity, and laughed it off. We laughed about it together. There was a heartbeat when I thought, “Well, I’m not going to LA today; I’m going to jail.” But I look white, and female, and straight, and well-off, and not like a security risk, so that TSA agent never suspected that I have carried contraband through airport security on more than one occasion.
And then there’s all the times in my life that I was doing something illegal and cops didn’t even bother to look twice.
Privilege means knowing that mistakes are going to be made in your favor. It’s the freedom to assume that the rules don’t apply to you. It’s a careless security.