Please Check Your Privilege, It’s Too Large to Carry On

Again, I saw vanity under the sun: the case of solitary individuals, without sons or brothers; yet there is no end to all their toil, and their eyes are never satisfied with riches. – Ecclesiastes 4:7-8 (NRSV)

This summer I had my first opportunity to take a first-class airplane ride. As I walked toward the terminal, my heart was full of gratitude and I was determined to thoroughly enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Ahead of me in the “priority security” line was a glamorous fleet of flight attendants. Coming up after me, a family with a baby in a stroller and a toddler in hand. The line was short, but we had to wait, because two of the flight attendants had not sent their cosmetics through the scanner properly. Then the toddler began to writhe and wail.

And just like that, my gratitude flew out the window. Flight attendants fly all the freaking time, I thought grumpily. Shouldn’t they know enough not to try to carry on bottles of perfume? And really, couldn’t that weeping baby go somewhere else while I’m pulling my shoes back on? 

A few minutes later, dragging a suitcase toward the gate, I realized what I had done. On the way into the terminal, I was ready to be thankful for every bit of this novel experience. Approximately fourteen minutes in, I was already wanting more.

As a white person, as an educated person, as a first-world person, I carry privilege all the time.  Privilege of which I am not even aware. Privilege I forget to be thankful for. Privilege that just makes me want more privilege. It’s past time to check that baggage.


Almighty God, help me to be more than satisfied. Amen.

dd-brownell.pngAbout the Author
Jennifer Brownell is the Pastor of First Congregational Church of Vancouver, Washington, and the author of Swim, Ride, Run, Breathe: How I Lost a Triathlon and Caught My Breath, her inspiring memoir.