Understanding our own privilege is very difficult. For one thing the culture disguises it. For another, if we are white or male or rich we probably do not want to see it. Is their anyway to get past these defenses?
To understand the systemic nature of oppression, pretend that you were born on a monopoly board. Pretend you are a poor black female Muslim lesbian, which for our purposes, is like being born on Baltic Avenue or some other square that does not derive automatic value in the game. Now, imagine your opponent is a rich white Christian heterosexual male, which is a bit like being born Boardwalk or Park Place. Imagine further that your opponent has inherited the houses and hotels of his parents.
Your opponent insists you are being treated fairly because you get the same number of dice rolls, and the same two hundred dollars when you cross “go.” He speaks of competition, but refuses to look down at the Monopoly Board and admit his advantage. You can work much harder than he does, but if he lands on your property it is a minor inconvenience. If you land on his property, even once, the game is over.
Your opponent may speak of freedom and initiative but you both know that unless there is some strange twist of fortune, he was born to win and you were born to lose. That, in a very small and trivial way, is what it is like to be born into systemic oppression.