Check your privilege

By Jenny Eastfort

In early September, I went to court and watched a 21-year-old Indigenous man get sentenced for violent offences. A Facebook-stalk of him showed me how interlocked our social circles are. A peer of mine who visited court at a similar time, for a similar purpose, told me about how the judge she sat with was a family friend.


I can never forget my first few weeks of law school. The conversation that washed over me was depressingly alien to me. They talked of how high their HSC marks were and the holiday destinations they’d just come back from. Their problems were banalities to me. Their humour seemed derisive. Their laptops were incredibly light Macs.


I’ve worked hard over the years to not resent the bubble of wealth, opportunity and comfort that my peers are accustomed to. I remember my introduction to this world, listening to an acquaintance of mine complain about the way her friends, unlike her, had it easy. Where their parents had paid for her friends’ holidays, she (the trooper) had saved the money she’d earned in a cushy retail job (which I assume she’d received due to her clearly upper class presentation) and paid for her holiday herself. What she did not or could not understand is that she was able to do this because her parents were supporting her. Just as she was able to achieve an ATAR in the high 90s because she had the capacity to study and the resources to achieve.  This example could have been any number of conversations I’ve had with any number of my peers.


It took me a long time to realise that she could be seen as much a victim of her circumstances as I am of mine. While my journey to law school has been fraught with perils, it has definitely been enlightening and character building. I am grateful that I have been indoctrinated into worlds other than the privileged law school world. For those who haven’t, I urge you to recognise that the social justice issues we learn about in law school aren’t hypothetical and removed scenarios for all. If you are the privileged student of my depiction, I’m not asking for your guilt. I am asking you to acknowledge your privilege and to carry around this knowledge like you carry your incredibly light Mac.