GUEST AUTHOR: Miles Dodge
Miles was very involved with Ncompass when we first started working in Haiti. He now contributes his time and talents to our Kidstarter program as a board member.
In my Air Force line of work, I address topics of illegal discrimination and sexual harassment, which to do effectively requires me to understand several different concepts including implicit bias, institutional racism and power & privilege to name just a few. While sitting in a training with ~100 Equal Opportunity specialists from across the Department of Defense regarding these topics, the lecturer read out the slide prompt “What is privilege?”. As I rolled my eyes, I thought to myself, “of course I know what it is” and instinctively felt guilty. However, as the lesson went on I realized my lack of understanding regarding this concept. How do you define it? Initially I recalled privilege in the sense of an advantage one is granted or earned such as the privilege to win an award for a successful performance (e.g. “it’s a privilege to be honored among so many amazing performers”), or access to borrow a vehicle while in high school for good grades as an example. These are all valid, but my paradigm shifted when I saw that privilege can be unearned as well. Like it or not, each person is born with some level of unearned privilege, or in other words advantage. As we finish out this 3-month quarter focused on education and Ncompass’s international focus on youth development (see previous post), let’s take a quick dive into where power & privilege is seen and how it connects to education.
As a white American male, you bet I have privilege (unearned since I was born a white male in America) in today’s modern society considering traditional societal norms, particularly considering the industries I have worked in (e.g. military, manufacturing, corporate business). This is where the instinctive guilt came from I mentioned earlier. Now am I ashamed to be a white American male? Absolutely not, and at the same time it is ignorant for me, or anyone with a high school level understanding of U.S. History to believe I was not born into advantageous circumstances. White American males however are not the only group with privilege because unearned privilege is seen in many different places. Being born into an influential family of a neighborhood anywhere in the world or being associated with a majority religious sect in a certain region (e.g. being raised in the Catholic minority in Myanmar during the Pope’s visit in Fall 2017 was a dangerous status to claim) can also be argued as providing unearned privilege. The question is not if privilege exists, but what can we do with it? Privilege in whatever form (earned, or unearned) gives an individual and/or group power. Power is simply a tool that can be used in a positive way, or negative way. Through a mixture of earned and unearned privilege I am in a position to exert some level of power, or influence on my surroundings and so are you! Investing in areas where there is a gap in educational opportunities and resources is a clear way of how we can choose to use our power & privilege in a positive way by supporting organizations like Ncompass.
Interaction Institute for Social Change
Ncompass focuses on promoting education in Haiti where individuals are often born into a cycle void of substantial privilege. To close the gap, Ncompass acts as one set of hands among many who are pushing to move the needle toward removing the lack of privilege as an unnecessary obstacle to a brighter future for Haiti and more specifically the community of Titanyen. Am I saying the educational landscape in America is perfect? I work in education and I can respond with a big “are you kidding me? of course it’s not perfect!”. However, it is important to pick your battles and aim at one target at a time. If this is a fight you want to join, great! If you feel called elsewhere, great; there are no shortage of good causes. Whatever you do, do not be lukewarm and sit on the sidelines. You have power & privilege, use it in a positive way!
Positive thought leads to positive action.
and its Transitions Program, services and opportunities to THRIVE!
We know this program will greatly impact the youth we work with in Haiti. But we sometimes forget just how the youth in Haiti have already impacted the youth in America!
Meet Max Ely. You might assume that Max is an ordinary high school senior. Eagerly awaiting graduation, and dreaming about how he can concur the world! But Max is anything but ordinary. He has recognized his privilege and place in the world is a blessing, and one that he eagerly wants to share with others.
Max came to Haiti with us last year when he was a junior in high school. "When I was preparing to go to Haiti, I didn't think it would impact my life as much as it did. But it opened my eyes to two main things, 1) a good education is essential and 2) without education kids could never achieve what we take for granted."
We often hear travelers say that they thought they were the ones who would be helping when they go to Haiti, but it always seems to turn out that Haitians are the ones helping. Helping us see the value of relationships. Helping us see that going slow and savoring moments are essential - and good. They help us see how big and real God is, in ways we often don't grasp living in the States.
The people of Haiti, their stories, their lives, their determination taught Max a lot! He knew he wanted to do something, to stay engaged and continue supporting these people who taught him so much. But he wasn't sure how.
Now 18, and a senior in high school, Max has found his calling and wants to become a pastor. At a recent conference at his church, he got a prophetic word that encouraged his generosity, and confirmed that God would be his provider - especially when Max is generous.
"With this I realized I needed to put practice into my prophecy and after finding out Jherry needed a few sponsors I decided to become one of them!!!
I am so glad I was able to make this decision and can't wait to learn more about Jherry and share in God's truth with him!"
Thank you Max for stepping out in faith, and standing with Jherry! We believe God will use you, and Jherry to do great things!
Sponsorship creates a space for students and adults alike, to have the ability to transform a child's life, while their own is being transformed through the process.
Jherry needs two more sponsors - will you join Max and sponsor Jherry?
Find more about sponsoring Jherry or one of the other children at the Maranatha House.
Ncompass is striving to become a leader in impacting and building up today’s youth for the Kingdom of God. We are committed to taking a bold, innovative and strategic business approach to inspire global action.