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Mindful : October 2019
drivers sped through a yellow light and blocked my crosswalk, I’d pound on their trunk as I edged behind their bumper: “Nice going, idiot!” And if they looked around for the culprit, they never suspected it was me. Female, white, middle-aged me. Getting away with pedestrian road rage is the least of the privileges that age, sex, race, accent, or wealth bring. Being born into one racial or eco- nomic group or another—what group is privileged depends on the society, but most of the research focuses on the discrepancies between white and Seeing the Truth of Inequality We all want to believe that we’ve earned what we have. True equality begins when we’re willing to see how the circumstances of our birth have helped us along. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Sharon Begley is senior science writer with STAT, a national health and medicine publication. She is also author of Tr a i n Your Mind, Change Your Brain and most recently Can’t Just Stop: An Investigation of Compulsions (2017, Simon & Schuster). Black people in North America—offers you greater or lesser access to influ- ential networks that can give you that all-important leg up. Accidents of birth can improve or worsen the odds of growing up in a safe, clean neighborhood with good schools and cultural opportunities. These “accidents” also determine your risk of someone calling the cops on you for driving while Black, bar- becuing while Black, shopping while Black, or sitting in a college common room while Black, to mention a few recent news-making incidents. → Back when my daily commute was a two-mile power walk through Man- hattan, my idea of “fighting traffic” didn’t mean dodging cars or dashing across intersections seconds before a red light. It was more literal. When BEING BORN INTO ONE RACIAL OR ECONOMIC GROUP OR ANOTHER OFFERS YOU GREATER OR LESSER ACCESS TO INFLUENTIAL NETWORKS THAT CAN GIVE YOU THAT ALL- IMPORTANT LEG UP. 34 mindful October 2019 By Sharon Begley • Illustrations by Edmon de Haro brain science