top of page

I’m A Black Woman And I Have Privilege…What’s Your Excuse?

First published on LinkedIn.

For this month, I asked you at what level is diversity celebrated in your organizations. In 2022, I asked the same question and 2 years later, there is an interesting trend going on. Both the percentage of those who feel diversity is celebrated more and not celebrated as much have risen in 2024 compared to 2022. This means the work we are doing has an impact, but that we still have to keep trying. 

Every single person has some form of privilege, and it’s important to understand how privilege plays a role in our lives. The Oxford dictionary defines privilege as “a special right or advantage that a particular person or group of people has.”

Most of us are not even aware of the privilege we hold, which is why it is so easy to disregard how it affects our lives.

Recently, there was some controversy when the former Chief Diversity Officer at Johns Hopkins Medicine, Dr. Sherita Golden, released a newsletter about privilege. In it, she defined privilege as a “set of unearned benefits” and identified the following groups of people as privileged: “white people, able-bodied, heterosexuals, cisgendered, men, Christians, middle or owning class, middle-aged, and English speakers”. This ruffled some big feathers (including "X-Man"). Following the uproar, Dr. Golden retracted and disavowed the definition, choosing to resign from her role.

Ultimately, this is another case of a Black female executive being forced to step down due to the “anti-woke” movement. 

Many people responded in support of Dr. Golden, and argued that the word privilege is often misinterpreted or taken to mean that people who benefit from systems of advantage are immoral or unworthy. 

Let’s be clear - I am NOT judging anyone! 

The fact is, privilege is often invisible and those who have it, may not even notice how they are benefiting from it. That is why it is vital to have these kinds of discussions to bring awareness to the impacts of privilege. 

Let’s discuss a bit more about what privilege REALLY is...and what it is NOT.

What Privilege Is Not

  • It does not equate to being born into a wealthy family or otherwise having financial security and stability.

  • Wealth can be a type of privilege, but it is not the primary focus when it comes to societal privilege.

What Privilege Actually Is

  • Some people benefitting from unearned advantages, while others are victims of unearned disadvantages. 

  • Unearned entitlements are things of value that all people should have; however, they are often restricted to certain groups because of the values of the majority culture. 

  • When workplace decisions are influenced by privilege, this can result in a lack of equity. 

  • The focus is on the realities that lead to people being excluded from basic acceptance and equal opportunity within society.

It’s essential to keep in mind that privilege isn’t bad — how you USE the privilege you have is what’s important.

Here are some suggestions on how to talk about privilege:

  1. Start by discussing how privilege looks in our society and which groups have privilege and which do not. Don’t make this into a blame game. For those who may be benefitting from privilege, often unknowingly, the challenge is to not quickly deny its existence. 

  2. Stress that privilege is relative to each individual’s lived experience. The degree to which individuals experience privilege must be framed within the context of their own race, gender, ability level, religion, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity coupled with the communities in which they live, work, and play as well as the persons with whom they interact.

  3. Recognize that having privilege does not require feeling guilty for your privilege. Rather, the focus should be to use our privileged positions to challenge the systems in which we live. 

  4. Determine and offer ways to challenge systems of privilege and oppression in your own life. If someone mentions an oppressive pattern that relates to privilege, consider how you might try not to participate in this pattern. For example: “Men always dominate conversations and talk over women because they are taught that their voices are more valuable.” In this situation, men might opt to say less or be aware of how often they are speaking and begin to listen more while others are speaking.

A direct consequence of remaining unaware of privilege can be seen in the Supreme Court’s decision to ban affirmative action in higher education. In her most recent article, Nikole Hannah-Jones discusses how this ruling will have a negative impact on racial equity. Schools such as the medical school of Howard University, one of the nation’s preeminent HBCUs, are under fire, even though their mission is to serve Black Americans who had for generations been systematically excluded from American higher education.

Now, people are co-opting the term “color blindness” and using it to justify ending affirmative action. But this outmoded and inaccurate version of colorblindness disregards the fact that Black Americans still suffer inequality in every measurable aspect of American life. They make it seem as if “eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.” This is a dangerous mindset that overlooks the importance of racial justice and equity. 

This shows how we have to work harder to make our voices heard and have our perspectives understood.

As an exercise in recognition of Celebrate Diversity Month, reflect on the types of privilege that you have…have you harnessed it to its full extent? 

Remember, Privilege & Allyship go hand-in-hand! If we can become aware of our privileges, we can begin to help those who may be disadvantaged because of these privileges. 

If you want to discuss more about privilege, be sure to reach out! I am available for speaker engagements and I have a special highly interactive workshop on this very topic: I’m A Black Woman And I Have Privilege…What’s Your Excuse?


  • March 10 - April 9: Ramadan - This is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection, and community. 

  • Celebrate Diversity Month: It was initiated in 2004 to recognize and honor the diversity of the world around us. It is a time to recognize and understand our differences, be it gender, race, ethnicity, faith, sexual orientation, and other factors, while honoring the common essence of humanity. By appreciating our similarities and differences, the month aims to get people to foster a deeper understanding of others, regardless of who they are, what they are, or how they live. It’s also an opportunity to increase diversity in the workplace and various academic fields. 

  • Autism Awareness Month: This month aims to celebrate and promote acceptance for the condition that occurs in 1 in every 54 children as of 2020 in the United States. Autism, a complex developmental condition affecting the patient’s ability to interact, communicate, and progress, has not one but many subtypes. 

  • Deaf History Month: This is a time to raise awareness about the deaf community and their struggles in our society. This observance also focuses on honoring the immense contributions of deaf individuals and the deaf community to our country. During this month, we get to learn more about the ongoing advocacy work many organizations undertake to make life easier and more inclusive for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. 

  • National Arab American Heritage Month: During the month of April, we recognize the achievements of Arab Americans. Across the country, cultural institutions, school districts, municipalities, state legislatures, public servants, and non-profit organizations issue proclamations and engage in special events that celebrate this community’s rich heritage and numerous contributions to society.

  • Stress Awareness Month: Stress can be debilitating, and it can cause and/or aggravate health problems. And since stress is a normal part of human existence — nobody is immune to it — it’s important to arm ourselves with knowledge so that we recognize when stress rears its ugly head. (Amazingly, we don’t always notice it’s happening to us.)

  • National Volunteer Month: This month celebrates the impact volunteers have on our lives and encourages active volunteerism in generations to come. We salute them for their unwavering services to businesses and communities and hold aloft their examples to inspire volunteerism for everyone.

  • April 2: World Autism Awareness Day - This is an internationally recognized day encouraging Member States of the United Nations to take measures to raise awareness about autistic individuals throughout the world. 

  • April 7: World Health Day - The theme for World Health Day 2024 is 'My health, my right’. This year’s theme was chosen to champion the right of everyone, everywhere to have access to quality health services, education, and information, as well as safe drinking water, clean air, good nutrition, quality housing, decent working and environmental conditions, and freedom from discrimination.

  • April 10: Eid al-Fitr - Muslims end the month of Ramadan with the celebration of Eid Al-Fitr. This is a time when Muslims come together in prayer, and also celebrate completing Ramadan. 

  • April 12: National Day Of Silence - This is a campaign that seeks to shed light on what many LGBTQ+ youth experience daily. Initially intended to focus on this problem within the school system, it has since expanded into workplaces, university campuses, and sporting events. Yearly, millions participate by staying silent for the duration of their day, representing the silencing of LGBTQ+ students.

  • April 15: National American Sign Language Day - Every year, this day aims to celebrate American Sign Language (ASL). American Sign Language is used by those who cannot hear or speak — usually by members of the Deaf community. The universality of sign language has helped such people to communicate across language barriers.

  • April 17: Ram Navami - This is a Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Rama, one the most popularly revered deities in Hinduism, also known as the seventh avatar of Vishnu. 

  • April 20: Volunteer Recognition Day - This is a day to honor, recognize, and celebrate the selfless individuals who volunteer their time and energy to help others and promote good causes. Volunteers do all this without expecting compensation or appreciation for their efforts...which is so inspiring!

  • April 21: Mahavir Jayanti - This is one of the most important religious festivals in Jainism. It celebrates the birth of Mahavira, the twenty-fourth and last Tirthankara of present Avasarpiṇī. 

  • April 21 - 27: National Volunteer Week - This week-long celebration is about placing a spotlight on inspiring figures whose invaluable seeds of kindness through volunteering are bettering the community and our world in general. Established in 1974, this significant celebration provides the perfect opportunity to say "Thank You." It also challenges us to do better and look for ways to be active participants, joining hands to impact our local communities and calling for more support.

  • April 22: Earth Day - Each Earth Day can "drive a year of energy, enthusiasm, and commitment to create a new plan of action for our planet," according to This year the day focuses on eliminating plastic usage "for the sake of human and planetary health." There is a goal to decrease plastic production by 60% by 2040 through shopping sustainably, voting, participating in cleanups, and practicing climate literacy. 

  • April 22 - 30: Passover - Passover, also called Pesach, is a major Jewish holiday, one of the three pilgrimage festivals, that celebrates the Biblical story of the Israelites' escape from slavery in Egypt.

  • April 24: Armenian Martyrs’ Day - This is a public holiday in Armenia that is honored by Armenians around the world to mourn and remember the genocide that happened between 1915 and 1923.

  • April 24: Administrative Professional Day - This holiday is always celebrated on the Wednesday of the last full week of April. Although it’s not observed as a public holiday, this day is still important and there’s so much to celebrate. A strong administrative team is absolutely essential for maintaining office decorum and seamless day-to-day operations. They are the backbone of every organization.

  • April 28: World Day for Safety and Health at Work - Every April 28th, the International Labour Organization commemorates the World Day for Safety & Health at Work, focusing on a timely theme related to occupational safety & health. This year, the theme will focus on exploring the impacts of climate change on occupational safety & health. Changing weather patterns have notable impacts on the world of work, particularly affecting workers safety & health.

Until next month... Be well and stay safe & healthy!


bottom of page