November FIGT Focus: Privilege—An Uncomfortable Subject

01 Nov 2020 7:01 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

FIGT Focus is exploring privilege for November 2020. It’s a topic that makes many of us uncomfortable. It would be a whole lot easier to just not talk about. But we must. 

Blog title: FIGT Focus for Nov 2020 is Privilege

This month, FIGT Focus is exploring privilege. It’s a topic that makes many of us uncomfortable. In some contexts, it might make us feel resentful, frustrated or even angry—and often, rightly so. It can even bring up feelings of shame or embarrassment. It’s one of those topics that it would be a whole lot easier to just not talk about.

But we must. 

If we want to change the racism that many inside and outside our globally mobile community experience, then we all need to get uncomfortable. If we want to be more inclusive of all those people who are just a little different from us, whether through race, sexuality, religion, abilities, language or education, then we have to start with looking at privilege.

The Board and the Communications volunteers have given a lot of thought to how we have this conversation together during the month of November. We will share some more on what topics you can expect to see us explore this month in this blog but first, we wanted to share some thoughts on how we discuss the thorny issue of privilege.


We recognize our own privilege.

As we approach conversations about race, national identity, language, and marginalization, we can begin by acknowledging the privilege we have in our own lives. You can read more about this in our first Conversation for Change blog.

We acknowledge our own biases.

Our brains are extraordinary but one of their shortcomings is that they categorize people and ideas too quickly, and in doing so, we can unintentionally marginalize others, and perpetuate racism and inequity. 

There is a relationship between our experience of privilege and our brains’ biases. Acknowledging this and working towards greater awareness is a huge step, but so is understanding that we will still sometimes make mistakes. It is important to be willing to learn.

We view privilege through the lens of global mobility.

We are grateful for the many hard conversations that are happening around the world about privilege and inequity. Our role within that work is to look at how FIGT’s community and work are impacted by privilege and inequity.

In line with our mission, we want to support the growth, success and well-being of people crossing cultures around the world.

We hope that we will start conversations this month that continue to do that for some time to come. We will also continue to question who is not yet at the FIGT ‘table’ and do what we can to address this.

We are borrowing an umbrella of forgiveness.

Some of you will have seen the Lightning Session presented by FIGT Members Jerry Jones and Cath Brew at FIGT2019. As two people with apparently little in common and a lot of potential for negative assumptions about each other’s labels, Jerry began what would be a life-changing conversation for both of them by asking for an umbrella of forgiveness for what he feared he would get wrong.

Please use Jerry’s umbrella freely this month so that we can create safe spaces where instead of being afraid to speak up and learn from each other, we ask questions and learn together, openly and honestly.

▶You can watch Cath & Jerry’s presentation here

We know this can be hard.

Looking at our own privilege and how it impacts others is uncomfortable. Sharing stories about how you have been discriminated against or marginalized is incredibly difficult. Being privileged also does not stop challenging things happening to you or experiencing stress or trauma.

Be kind to yourself and whatever your situation and please remember to exercise some self-care. This has been a difficult year for so many. 

Everyone’s experience has value.

It doesn’t matter how long you have been living a transient life, or what your globally mobile journey looks like; your story and experience matter.

We come ready to learn.

No single one of us knows it all. We enter this conversation with humility, a willingness to ask our questions and to learn from the experience of others.

We know that there is no ‘right’ thing to say and that it is sometimes better to put aside our fear of being judged for ‘getting it wrong’ and speak than to say nothing. We invite you all to come equally ready to share and contribute and to answer those questions.

A recent New York Times article by Noor Brara on third culture kids expressed our feeling about how we move into this Focus on privilege together beautifully:

“And because our stories couldn’t be gleaned from our outward appearances, accents or possessions, we all came humble to the table, open and permeable and ready to barter the surfaces of our souls: our learnings, our languages, our cuisines, our clothing.”


What we will explore together this month

Some of our community have graciously agreed to participate in panel discussions on three major themes this month. We debated whether we would pre-record these conversations or host them ‘live’. One of the issues that arose was timezones and access. As a result, these are being pre-recorded so that everyone can view them via our social media. 

In addition, we will be sharing articles, blogs, and other content that we will hope will inspire thought and reflection around privilege.

We hope that this will stimulate further discussion and sharing — we can only scratch the surface of these topics.

Please keep the conversation going by commenting online and if you’re an FIGT Member, you can also use our closed Facebook Members group to engage further or share your feedback with us directly via figt2020@figt.org.

  • The privilege of language: This discussion will explore how different languages are viewed, the privilege of being multilingual, the privilege of having spoken language, and how language can be used to marginalize others

  • The privilege of race: How do racism and colorism impact our globally mobile community and how can we respond?

  • Standing outside: Privilege comes in many forms, and it can shift subtly with the context. This conversation will explore how it feels to be ‘outside’ the majority.

We look forward to the start of what we hope will be a useful period of learning, reflection and sharing.


To access the content:
Please join us on FacebookLinkedIn, or Twitter. Video content will be available for the month and then archived to the members’ only section of this website.

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