Even intersectionality Democratic darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez acknowledges she has some privilege. And, no, it’s not the privilege of growing up in the largely affluent Westchester county. According to the freshman congresswoman, she inherited “cisgender privilege.”
Speaking on The Intercept podcast this week, Ocasio-Cortez talked in depth about all kinds of privilege in the United States, from white privilege to gender privilege. First, she asserted that woke white people need to go beyond simply acknowledging the racism that pervades all of American society.
“Acknowledging racism is a really big step. It’s a really big step from where we were … It’s nowhere near enough and the solutions are so painful,” she said.
Ocasio-Cortez went on to claim that white people have a painful time acknowledging the privilege they inherited because it damages their sense of identity.
“Frankly, I find it — I find the solutions for white communities to be very painful because it’s very painful for a community to understand and have go through this — like, you can be — the idea that you can be poor and benefit from the color of your skin does not compute for a lot of people,” she explained. “And going through that realization is very painful or even just economically for people that were born with silver spoons. It’s very painful to admit that you had advantages.”
Host Ryan Grim used Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s expression of his anger “in front of the whole country” as an example of what happens when white people are confronted with accusations of privilege, even though the man was being accused of sexual assault without evidence while nearly having his life ruined. Ocasio-Cortez agreed that communities have a difficult time acknowledging this privilege.
“If you haven’t had a transition in your life where, you know, you were maybe born poor or born without certain privileges and then especially as you transition into having certain privileges in your life, you actually see and feel and sense and taste and smell all of the differences,” she said. “If you’ve never experienced different treatment in your life, you wouldn’t know what different treatment feels like or looks like.”
The trick to overcoming this, according to the freshman Congresswoman, is to just acknowledge that everyone has some bit of privilege. Using herself as an example, Ocasio-Cortez acknowledged her privilege of being born as a female and identifying as a female.
“We can all, almost every single person in this country can acknowledge some privilege of some of some type, you know,” she said. “I’m a cisgendered woman. I will never know the trauma of feeling like I’m not born in the right body. And that is a privilege that I have, no matter how poor my family was when I was born.”
She continued, “But it’s really hard for some people to admit that they — you know, it’s part of this weird American Dream mythology that we have, that for a lot of — in a lot of circumstances isn’t as true or isn’t as clearly communicated as we’d like for it, or we wish it was.”