Today, we drive, we wait, we sleep. And tomorrow, as the sun creeps over the mountains, we will descend into the canyon. Into Havasupai Canyon to splash in the blue-green waterfalls.
It’s at times like these where I really reflect on my privilege. My whiteness, my middle-class upbringing. I have had numerous opportunities given to me and numerous mistakes forgiven or looked past based on the color of my skin and the assumed money in my bank account. I could write a blog post about the times I could have been arrested or could have been killed by the cops were I a young black person. I could write about how I have access to thousands of dollars in lines of credit – which has saved my ass from payday lending and/or street sleeping several times when things got tough. We all have tough experiences. We all have pain. But when we have resources (financial and emotional) to deal with it all, we are able to recover and get back on our feet. Without such resources, one hiccup can cause everything to spiral out of control.
One of The Moth podcasts I listened to recently delved hard into this disparity between privilege and poverty (everything comes back to money, doesn’t it?). Ed Gavagan told a riveting story about how he was very nearly killed on the streets of New York City (you really should add it to your playlist or just go listen to it now). But even after everything that happened to him, he still recognizes that his pain means nothing to the people who attacked him, because they have always been in pain. Their lives have been a shitstorm of pain born out of poverty. They couldn’t see any hope for their futures which is what led them to join gangs and commit violence.
As I hike into this beautiful wonderland of waterfalls tomorrow, I know I will be confronted with white guilt when I witness the poverty of the Native Americans living in the Havasupai reservation. Of course, it is not my fault, but it isn’t theirs either.
For me, the question comes back to: what can you do, with your privilege, to help those or stand up for those who (for whatever reason) do not have such privilege, do not have hope, do not have resources? Will you help make a change in our culture?