U.S. Privilege


Heather Sells

   My colleague Maira Alejandra and I have just returned from a week’s trip to Cuba to report on the church there and preparations for Pope Francis’ visit in September.   Many colleagues in the newsroom have inquired about our experience and the words that come to mind to describe it are:  intense, hot and humbling.  One other phrase keeps ringing in my mind and that is:  U.S. privilege.

   I have become aware in recent years of the understanding behind the term white privilege but what struck me in Cuba is the incredible privilege that it is to live in the U.S.  Here’s some reasons why:

   In the U.S. you can graduate from a university and expect to find a job that pays more than $50 a month (university graduates in Cuba live on wages like this with U.S. food prices).

   In the U.S. you can expect that the government will maintain public buildings and infrastructure like roads and bridges.   You can also expect that public buildings will offer air conditioning in the summer!

   In the U.S. you can expect to find a food supply in grocery stores that is constant and varied.

   You can expect to find clean drinking water everywhere.

   And in the U.S., the government does not force students to go to public events—like say—welcoming the Pope to our country.

   Bottom line:  it’s hard not to feel thankful and grateful for the privilege it is to live in the U.S. when you’ve just returned from a country where government dysfunction and corruption and control lead to widespread suffering and hardship on a daily basis for so many. 

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