Finding Power in Difference – Elaines Peña ’18

Finding Power in Difference

This summer I worked at a non-profit in Boston, and every week we had different training days to teach us what life in a non-profit was like. One of the trainings that had the most impact on me, and I still think about to this day, was one that was all about privilege. One thing that came up was how marginalized people need to recognize the ways in which they experience privileges. As a Hispanic woman coming from a low-income community and student at predominantly white institutions since high school, this caught me a little off guard, to say the least. There is so much focus on how I am a minority in so many spaces, that I have given little thought to the ways in which I hold power, and am in fact privileged. Although I am a minority in many spaces, I also hold power because I am a citizen of the United States, I am college educated, I am straight, I am able-bodied, I am bilingual, I have access to health care, I have a roof over my head and I have a loving supportive family. It can sometimes be hard to recognize our own privilege, but I challenge you all to take a look at yourself, and recognize the ways in which you also hold power. Instead of placing so much focus on our identity as minorities, we need to use our privilege and our voices to create a more just and equitable world. Our difference is what makes us powerful. We are not a liability, we are an asset, and because of our situation we have so much to share with others who have different experiences. 

This training is so relevant to my work at CBL because my difference is what allows me to connect with the people that I meet. Through my years at Girls with Dreams, I was able to form connections with these girls because of the similarities that we shared. Like them, I grew up in a low-income community and could relate to the experiences and feelings that they had. In many ways they were able to see themselves in me. I think as a minority student and a woman I had a responsibility to allow these girls to recognize all that they could become. I wanted to share with them to not be afraid to dream, even if that dream seemed impossible. 

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