“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny.  Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.  I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the inter-related structure of reality.”

— Martin Luther King, Jr.  

Systemic inequalities resulting in both privilege and discrimination seem unapologetically blatant these days.  The individual experience of power and control may be more subtle though, and is both dynamic and complex.  Rey Ty (2013) determined the following factors to be relevant in power distribution in US society:

  • Class
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Gender
  • Fashion
  • Culture
  • Age
  • Ability
  • Values
  • Appearance
  • Features
  • Social role
  • Politics
  • Immigration

Different factors or subcultures hold more weight in access to resources or inherent privilege than others (i.e. class).  Some are visible (i.e. appearance or physical features) and some are not necessarily apparent (i.e. sexuality or religion).  Some factors include an element of choice or may be learned (i.e. values or politics) and some reflect a normative developmental stage (i.e. age or social role).  Furthermore, the experience within a subculture may vary (i.e. skin color or gender).  The darker the skin color, for example, the more likely one is to experience discrimination.  There are numerous possibilities of combinations that make up a unique and individual experience.

Considering only two of the subcultures, sex and color for example, I have experienced discrimination or oppression as a female AND I have also experienced inherent privilege and power as a white person.  Therefore, it is my responsibility to become aware of the impact of each, as well as the intersection of the two, honoring that if one factor was different so is the access to power and control– a non-white female would have significantly less privilege and power, while a white male would have more.  

Shifting the level of social consciousness requires increased self-awareness, or a true understanding of one’s personal power, both internal and external.   Awareness is a continual consistent process and is a necessary step towards acceptance.  And acceptance is what paradoxically preempts change.

Therapy  is a process of increasing self-awareness and is also a privilege.  $5 from each individual’s session rate per month will go to Y12SR’s Urban Outreach Project, which brings meetings of yoga and 12-step methodology into under-resourced and nonprofit treatment centers, rehab facilities, and halfway houses.