Notes from the Pandemic: Excuse me, my privilege is showing

During these days of COVID-19 quarantine, I've once again become aware of just how privileged I am. 

I'm aware of my privilege when I watch the nightly news and I'm struck by the disproportionate number of African Americans who have died from this disease (I've seen stats that have also backed this up... It's alarming.) 

I'm aware of my privilege when my mind spirals and I think about the worst case scenario and realize that if I were to get this dreadful disease and and if I needed to be hospitalized, my chances are fairly good that because I'm white, able-bodied, and under 40, a hospital would give me a vent. 

I'm aware of my privilege when I submit proposals for projects I hope to do AFTER the pandemic ends, fairly confident that for our family, there will be an AFTER. 

I'm aware of my privilege when I place an order for groceries and the stock boy comes out and loads those groceries in my car, without my ever having to go into a store.

I'm aware of my privilege when I pull food out of my basement freezer, a "bonus" freezer that allows our family to go nearly two weeks between grocery store runs. 

I'm aware of my privilege when I place our weekly order for takeout and I get to choose from a variety of restaurants still offering takeout. 

I'm aware of my privilege when, in those moments when I realize I need (or want something), I simply go on Amazon and order it. So what if it takes a few extra days to get it. I still don't have to leave my house to get the item. 

I'm aware of my privilege when I think back on the day the World Health Organization declared this a global pandemic and I immediately told my boss that I no longer felt comfortable working from my office at the church and he understood.

I'm aware of my privilege when I sit in my upstairs office working while my husband works from our basement office, both of us doing jobs that easily transitioned to our homes, even though people we know and love still have to leave their houses regularly in order to go to work. 

I'm aware of my privilege when I rant and rave about seven consecutive hours of Zoom meetings, forgetting for a moment that those Zoom meetings allow me to continue working. 

I'm aware of my privilege when I think about how I - and so many other church workers - mistakingly thought that our crisis was transitioning to online ministry, not walking with our parishioners through a pandemic and the grief that accompanies it. 

I'm aware of my privilege when my oldest daughter logs onto her own laptop in order to get her daily work from school.   

I'm aware of my privilege when my husband and I bicker over whose turn it is to focus on the girls. Even though it often feels impossible to navigate work, school, and childcare I'm aware of what a privilege it is that we have TWO adults juggling this situation, neither of whom has to leave the house to go to their job. 

I'm aware of my privilege when I feel the walls of my house closing in on me and then realize, "Wait a minute. I'm safe in my spacious house." 

I'm aware of my privilege when I find myself worrying about my husband's new business and realize that we have a savings account and even a home equity line that we could draw from if we needed to... Not to mention that I'm also gainfully employed. 

I'm aware of my privilege when people ask about how Hope is fairing and I tell them, "She's living her best life, ecstatic to be at home all day with mom and dad and Kendall." 

I'm aware of my privilege when I realize how much we've been able to shelter Hope and Kendall from what's going on around them. 

I'm aware of my privilege when I realize that our most grueling daily decision is what to eat for dinner and whether to ride bikes or take the wagon on our neighborhood strolls. 

In short, I'm aware of my privilege... In ways that I have never been before. 

My prayer is that my awareness of my privilege will continue to grow and move me into action and that even after this pandemic subsides, I'll have the courage to use my privilege on behalf of those who have little. 

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

More about Jen

Jen's Books

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Now Available!

Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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