Is it actually possible to make a complicated (and sort of polarizing) social issue cute?
YouTubers Franchesca Ramsey (Chescaleigh) and Kat Blaque (TransDIYer) found a way! Starring two disgustingly adorable best bug buddies with their own unique baggage, this short video tackles the sociological idea of privilege in a way your kid siblings can understand.
When you're talking about social inequality, saying someone has "privilege" just means that people from one particular group are more likely to have advantages than others in different situations. It's typically used when talking about things like race, gender, disability, economic class or sexual orientation and the different ways they all intersect. The word "oppression" comes up in these kinds of conversations too. It generally refers to the people who do not benefit from certain privileges.
It can be a tough thing to explain, particularly when you're talking with someone who's having a hard time seeing what their own privileges might be.
"Most people assume privilege means they're rich, have never worked for anything or that their life has been perfect and free of challenges, which isn't true," Ramsey told MTV News. "Privilege just means there are things you'll never experience because of who you are. It's kinda like having blinders on that let you see the world in front of you, but make it really hard to see anything that's in your peripheral vision. You can still see, you just don't see the whole picture."
Yet, people still have a hard time getting past those knee-jerk reactions and realizing that being privileged isn't the same thing as being spoiled. A lot of times they can get a little upset, worrying that their own experiences and personal troubles are being invalidated.
"Unfortunately, when you talk about privilege," Ramsey says, "people have a tendency to get really defensive and shut down, which just makes things more difficult."
That's also why the cute lil bugs help soften the blow. Ramsey says she first got the idea for the video after reading a similar story using a dog and lizard to explain the same concept: The animals do a lot to help viewers empathize with the characters situations while keeping the story's appeal more broad. It's a lot easier to acknowledge the differences in a snail and a caterpillar, taking those heavier emotions out of the equation, before applying the same idea to the diverse groups of people you encounter every day.
Understanding the idea is only part of the battle. Next you have to learn to understand and acknowledge your own privileges (generally what people mean when they tell you to "check your privilege,"), which can be just as uncomfortable, Ramsey says.
"... Everyone at some point has to see and understand their privilege in order to work towards a better world for everyone. So, while it's uncomfortable at first, it's a necessary step in the fight for equality," Ramsey says. "It's important to remember that momentary discomfort is nothing in compared to the challenges those who deal with oppression face on a daily basis."
It takes work and a desire to learn and grow to truly to unpack your experiences and make sense of your privilege, Ramsey says, and it's likely that you'll mess up from time to time — everyone does. You just have to try and do better.
Ramsey says that while "there are tons of situations where holding someone's hand and walking them through their privilege isn't ideal," that doesn't mean there aren't opportunities to learn and grow.
"I think we have to be more willing to own up to our mistakes and help each other through mistakes as they happen. We all have to learn at some point and if you're able to recognize the situations you had to learn from, hopefully you'll be more willing to lend a hand to someone else in that position," she says. "I hope that my video encourages people to take the time to help one another, but also to do the work themselves. There are tons of great resources available online and in print and I truly believe that people can learn and grow if that's something they truly want."
To learn more about bias and privilege, head to LookDifferent.org