Our time under the mango tree was getting close to an end, but I had more questions. However, for now, I knew that an hour and a half of a great conversation had to come to an end. I had spent time in the presence of a wise woman talking about what it means to be an African who had had many significant and formative experiences in America. Many good things came out of our talk, but I left the conversation with this one important lesson from the woman I have come to see as my Ugandan Auntie. To paraphrase her, she said becoming a Black doctor may mean that a patient would be skeptical of my qualifications in America, but in Africa, I may be placed in a higher light than I deserve. Both instances call for humility both to resist injustice and to lift others up.
As I prepare to end my time in Uganda, I can’t help but say that it has been a privilege living and studying in Uganda this semester, and this privilege has been much more nuanced as the above story shows. My goal is not to analyze privilege as I am aware of the negative connotation the word privilege can have in current American conversations, but I simply ask, can privilege be redeemed or be seen with a bit more nuance? I think so. In a simple sense of the word, having a privilege is to be advantaged. And advantages can be utilized in the wrong or right way. But beyond the nuance of privilege is the bottom line that many of us deserve many things and deserve nothing. Nonetheless, our human agency positions us to be good stewards of our privileges, to respond with love instead of hate, to provide solutions instead of creating more problems, to lift others up instead of pushing others down, and to stand in unity and solidarity instead of sowing division and discord.
That I was born black was not my choice. That I was born in Africa was not my choice either. My current cross-cultural and multicultural perspectives often make things more complex than simple. Yet God in his infinite wisdom is using my heritage and the complexities of my experiences to shape and form me into who he wants me to be. That is a privilege. But one more thing, I walk in this privilege with caution and humility, however, lest I make the waters of privilege deeper than the waters of love.