Shama Nathan, of the Feminist Wire, recalls a time when she realized her privilege. While on vacation she encounters a young man who’s compliment “you talk like a white person” followed by “that’s why you’re smart.” Privilege surrounds every aspect of life. Nathan correlates whiteness to superiority. Octavia Butler weaves privilege in her texts, through her characters. Specifically in Clay’s Ark, Blake exhibits his privilege within the text. Blake’s status as a white doctor stresses his high-class status. Butler mentions the three expensive cars he owns and carrying over two thousand dollars in his wallet (461). Butler destroys Blake’s privilege by being a victim of kidnapping. There is no amount of money, high job status or color that can stop someone’s ability to enter into a tragic situation, which can range from cancer to kidnapping. Blake expresses “his abductors might be more to feel they needed him if they thought of him as their doctor” (471). This is another instance where Blake attempts to use his privilege in order to save his life. Where he feels he is superior to his abductors because of his occupation.
Privilege can be viewed as a construct of the disadvantaged. However, the flip side of privilege is the people who have the advantage to have it. Blake does not have to live in a sewer and is capable of keeping his children away from it. A part of having privilege is accepting the fact that one is protected by outside forces such as the disadvantaged. Blake was incapable of protecting his family from the gang and immediately associated the disadvantaged with those who do not have money. He expected Eli and Ingraham to be thieves. However, they were after his strong car and the people inside it. Privilege in Clay’s Ark resembles poverty in America today. Butler’s perspective of privilege as the “haves” and the “have not’s” is not a new idea within American culture. Privilege is woven inside of the text to comment on the future of American society.
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