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Privilege and Power

Erika Enriquez
Pacific Oaks College HD361

The history of the United States has been set on the idealism of those with privilege and
power. The words privilege and power seem to go hand in hand. One needs privilege in order to
have power. When comparing the idea of privilege and power to the in class facts we have
reviewed in class, I think we have been able to see it in many eras. We can go as far back as the
beginning of the United States when explorers first came and settled into a land that was not
theirs. The term manifest destiny is the first thing that comes to mind. We can also see privilege
and power in much smaller scales as in the Lemon Grove incident. Another area where we see
privilege and power go hand in hand is execution of the Jim Crow Laws and again during the
Freedom Riders movement.
Starting at the beginning of the United States we addressed manifest destiny. We see a
group of people who felt that they had superiority over large chunks of land because they felt that
the native people were not using it to its fullest potential so they came in and took it over. The
new settlers used privileges and power to take over the land of the natives. On a similar note we
see the same thing with the Indian Boarding schools of the 1880. Again, the American people
used their privilege and ability to convince those in power to create these schools to Americanize
Native American children. The Native American children were forced to assimilate to the
American ways and told that their ways were wrong. Throughout time we have seen many
examples like these were those with privilege use their power to overtake others ideas and beliefs
to convert them to their own.
Another theme regarding privilege and power was the Lemon Grove Incident. This
incident took place in a small town called Lemon Grove. The white people of the town did not
understand and or want the Mexican American children in the town to go to the local school with
their children. The privileged people (white people) of the town used their advantage to make

changes to the town by influencing those in power, which were fellow privileged people. The
only difference with this is that the people used their power to make changes in their community
and created a segregated school for Mexican children, but the people fought against it. This
group of people thought they were going to make all these changes and the Mexican-American
families were going to accept the changes but they were wrong. I feel that this was a case of
privilege and power because the PTA took it upon them to push the school board to make all the
changes. They felt that they could do all this just because their way was the best way, and
therefore the others were not good enough to be in the same school as the white children.
Personally, I feel that privilege and power go hand in hand. Without one you cant have
the other. The group that is in power is those who are privileged and those who are privileged are
in control or hold the power. We have seen examples of this throughout our research and class
discussions. I feel those who are in that status quo, are less accepting of those that are not like
them. These specific groups of people seem to feel that their way is the only way, and that others
need to conform or assimilate to their views. The privileged group seem to have a glazed over
view of how others are affected by the choices they make. History has showed us that the
privileged groups idealism is similar to that of manifest destiny. These groups are egocentric and
feel that they need to get what they want at any cost. I find that this idealism is similar to
manifest destiny because it is just a different definition for the same thing.