Do you know your privilege? Attorney Frederick Joseph has an eye-opening lesson for you


Yahoo Life is hosting a five-day challenge to help readers learn one actionable thing each day to be a better ally to the marginalized or disenfranchised. This is the first day of the 5-day challenge.

While not a new concept, this year it is becoming more clear than ever that there are differences between the people who enjoy certain privileges in the United States and those who are excluded. Black and colored people are disproportionately affected by higher COVID-19 and death rates and are subjected to regular police brutality, while transgender people struggle to be treated like their cis counterparts and women, by and large, largely shouldered the burden have the compatibility of work and child-rearing during the pandemic.

So we met with award-winning attorney Frederick Joseph, the author of author The black friend, for the Yahoo Allyship Pledge: 5 day challenge with Frederick Joseph. This is a guided program that anyone can do with the aim of helping you understand how privileges can affect your thoughts, and what you can do to help others.

“I usually use the words ‘accomplices’ and ‘co-conspirators’ instead of ‘allies’,” Joseph told Yahoo Life. “Me, [the words] actually means that someone was involved. Someone got out of there, someone was part of the action – as opposed to an ally who can often be someone who is on the sidelines. “

Joseph’s goal, he says, is to challenge people to “get out of there” and “make a difference.” Ready to dive in? Here is an overview of the challenge.

Day one: take stock of your privilege

Joseph recommends that you start by sitting down and thinking about your privileges in society. “In our society and all around us there are people who face oppression and there are people who are exposed to daily trauma based on different ways of existence in systems built against them,” he says.

Some of your privileges might not be that obvious, says Joseph. “For example, if you are a woman or someone who is a man, then there are ways that man can have privileges and benefit from a society that may have systems built against you.”

I usually use the words “accomplices” and “co-conspirators” instead of “allies”. Me, [the words] actually means that someone was involved. Someone got out of there, someone was part of the action – as opposed to an ally who can often be someone who is on the sidelines.Frederick Joseph, author, The Black Friend

Joseph says it is important to take stock of your privileges because “if you are trying to combat systems that hinder, traumatize, or repress other people, you need to know how you fit into those systems yourself.”

Joseph recommends going through the following checklist to assess your privilege:

Understand intersectionality

“It’s important that we not only control the obvious things about ourselves, but also the not-so-obvious things, and that’s where the term intersectionality comes in,” says Joseph. “Intersectionality is the idea that several things exist at the same time.” Joseph points out that he is a black, cisgender person, but there are other factors about him that play into privilege. “I’m also someone lucky enough to go to both college and grad school, and other ways in which I have privileges that are intersectional all exist at the same time to essentially give me a mixed bag if you would be privileged. “

Joseph recommends that you actually write down your privileges. “It is very special and personal to see them regularly and to put them on paper,” he says.

To learn more, visit and check out the Yahoo Allyship Promise.

Video produced by Jacquie Cosgrove


Resources to Learn More About Allies:


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