Checking My Time-Travelling Privilege

Two points, 1) this might not be a new realisation; 2) this realisation may be influenced by the fact that I’m writing at 3am because I couldn’t sleep.

I’m realising there is inherent privilege in conversations and hypothetical questions regarding time travel. You all know the questions, if you could live in any time period, which would you chose? If you could go back in time and visit a historical event, which would you chose? If you could have dinner with any three historical figures, who do you invite? … and equivalent. I am realising that the limitless responses I am considering and giving to these questions is solely a result of my comfortable white cis male privilege. I am sure for many others the reality of the situation is that there are very few periods and places they could safely visit (or at least visit without forfeiture of rights). I wonder, for many others, whether my jocular speculation about whether I’d rather visit the American Revolution (I know that’s not a singular time/place), or the opening night of Follies, strikes many as inconsiderately elitist. Or whether my speculation on how cool it would be to visit the past to hear MLK deliver the Mountaintop speech, whilst somehow sidestepping journeying with the movement (and standing in solidarity with the pain and frustration of the journey to that moment) strikes some as intolerably voyeuristic; a kind of extortion of memory.

Whether or not these wonderings are correct, an apology does not seem out of the line. So, for the times, past and present, where I have considered visiting the past from the present, I apologise to the past and the present, for not considering the complexities, the struggles, and the pain held in the past and present.

I want to take this opportunity to make a brief, yet related, subsequent realisation (realisation might be a stretch in this case). I have noticed, in numerous conversations now, reticence to locating privilege because the person in question (read: man in question) does not feel the need to apologise for been born white and male. What staggers me is this association of location with apology, surely it is far more appropriate to consider it, acknowledgement (if we’re in the mood to give out runner up ribbons we could commend them for sticking with a word beginning with the letter ‘a’).    

So, there are my realisations. Perhaps more could have been said, there were more jokes I could have indulged in… I had a bit running around my mind, something about the equivalency of Marty McFly and orphanage tourism… but it didn’t come together, and besides, this might not be the time and place.

(final, side realisation: I’m misspelling privilege a lot)