Written by Alondra Ayala
August 12, 2020 | 3 min. read
The decision to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector comes from a strong desire to change the world. The desire stems from volunteer work, participating in fundraisers, a trip we took, or from our own life experiences. Regardless of the spark that ignites the fire, we enter the nonprofit sector with ideas, hopes, and dreams of changing the world we live in!
We conjure up plans to bring about change, not fully aware of the challenges we’ll face. We stop and think to ourselves, Do I want to change the world or just my world? Am I limiting myself to what I am interested in or affected by? Am I willing to expand my perspective and learn about the experiences of others? The answer to these questions helped me clarify my intentions and determine the path forward.
The spark that ignited my fire to join the sector was influenced by my family background and the environment I grew up in. The issues of inequity at the center of debate and public frustration over a variety of social problems fueled my fire. Because the world looks different to a lot of people due to these inequities made me decide to be a part of the change.
When I began learning about the sector, it was easy to feel overwhelmed and ask, Where do I begin to dive in? Can I truly make an impact? Can I change the world? Does it even matter if I do something? I quickly figured out, YES! By simply being aware and acknowledging the existence of these thoughts, the first step was already taken.
To understand the experiences and perspectives of others or the world more fully, I had to investigate the true meaning of privilege.
Recently, the word privilege has become triggering and divisive. I believe it’s important to be aware of our own privilege and not shy away from a conversation. It is because of privilege we can be in the positions we are and initiate the first steps toward change. Every day is a reminder of the immense privilege I have, we have, and it starts with taking an honest look in the mirror and acknowledging our privilege.
What privilege do I have?
It’s important to “lead by example,” so I will go first. I am a 24-year old, bilingual, Mexican woman who received an education from a four-year university. I have a stable job, a roof over my head, and do not worry where my next meal will come from. I have access to clean water, reliable transportation, healthcare, and a cell phone. I have unlimited access to the internet. I can freely travel to and from almost anywhere, and I do not fear being detained or returned to my family’s home country. I have the privilege to vote.
I am no different than others who are passionate about issues personal to them. Being from an immigrant family, life is a constant reminder of what lacking advantage means. The United States has the largest number of immigrants in the world, and we see that reflected in our sector. There are thousands of nonprofits across the country whose mission is to serve the immigrant population. While it is impossible to be involved with all these nonprofits, there is something we can all do, VOTE! Voting is one of the best ways to utilize YOUR privilege. Not voting is the ultimate sign of privilege.
I Can Change the World!
Acknowledging what privileges you have, and how you can use them is a great first step. Taking action and using those privileges to help others is even better! Investing time in yourself, seeking opportunities to broaden your perspective of the world and others is time invested wisely. To learn more about privilege and equity, enroll for free in The Equity Journey.
The Equity Journey online course registration is open through August 15, 2020, to help Americans begin the conversation about social equity.