Thanks for reading!
Privilege is definitely intersectional. But that doesn’t mean any particular type of discrimination is more x than y.
For example, one could say that since gay men are discriminated against more often than lesbians, homophobia is not the “real problem,” it’s actually “sexism.” The intersectional nature of privilege and oppression means there are no either or’s — only both/ands.
I am sorry to hear of the oppression your wife experienced due to her national and socioeconomic identities, However, she still has privileges afforded to her for her racial identity.
Understanding intersectionality is about isolating variables. If someone had the same national identity and socioeconomic background as your wife, and the only difference was the color of their skin, it would be easy to see the advantages your wife has because of her skin color. (and I know there aren’t a lot of Black people in that region, but roll with it).
After leaving her home country, despite being a foreigner, your wife would be given more benefit of the doubt, more job opportunities, more people willing to help her and see her as human than a Black woman in the identical situation.
You have to compare apples to apples.
So it’s not about whether or not Black Americans who grow up like President Obama are more privileged than your wife — Of course they are! It’s about comparing apples to apples. President Obama has to be compared to others of his equal status and position, who the main difference between them is race. So a fair comparison would be the treatment of Obama while in office versus the treatment of the 44 white presidents America has had.
The very fact that we have have 44 white presidents and one Black one speaks to the nature of racial privilege in the United States.
Although impoverished, your wife would be perceived as more capable I’m more worth investment than a black woman in a similar or identical situation.
Even white people who grew up homeless still get to see their race represented positively on TV, and movies and in books. They still get to walk into a church and see a Jesus that looks like them on the wall. They still get to get patched up at the hospital and have Band-Aids that match their skin color — Band-Aids that are called ‘nude’ by the way. If they are dressed nicely, they have a reasonable expectation of walking into a store and being treated with respect. If they stayed in an Airbnb, they have a reasonable expectation that white neighbors will not call the police on them. If they hand it in a resume with equal experience and qualifications as someone with a Black sounding name (They literally don’t even have to be black, it can just be a name that sounds Black like Jerome versus John), The homeless white dude will get the call back first, unless his name is Jerome lol.
I say all these things to say the privilege that comes from having white skin is separate and distinct from the privilege that comes from having money, the privilege that comes from being college educated, the privilege that comes from being male, the privilege that comes from being straight, the privilege that comes from being able-bodied, etc.
All of these privileges create a multi-dimensional net of oppression. All of them need to be dismantled. To do that, people need to identify and understand which privileges they hold. Does that makes sense?