I’ve been at my tarot game a long time and over the years I’ve achieved a level of success. I might attribute this to hard work and dedication. There is a lot of that for sure. I’ve busted my ass, taken some mighty big risks, and never gave up.
But there is an unspoken advantage that has helped me too. Namely, I’m white, able-bodied, cisgender and heterosexual. In other words, I have privilege.
If you’re not sure what privilege is, coauthor Shaheen Miro and I summed it up in our upcoming book, Tarot For Troubled Times:
What is privilege?
Privilege is the unearned advantages or benefits that are granted to people who fit into certain social groups or identities. Those who have privilege are often not aware of their unearned benefits, while those who are marginalized are quite aware of what oppression looks and feels like.
Here are a few examples of privilege:
Access to money
If you can identify with one of these examples, you have privilege. There are many other examples of privilege, but these are the most common.
Having privilege doesn’t mean that your life is easy. You can still have challenges, but if you have privilege, you will have an easier time than someone who does not.
For example, if you’re a woman, you may experience sexism. But if you’re a black woman, you will experience sexism and racism.
If you’re a black woman, you may experience sexism and racism, but a black disabled woman would experience both of those, plus ableism.
That’s privilege in a nutshell.
My privilege allows me to work in many industries without fear of discrimination or worse. For an entrepreneur, especially one in a “woo” career, having privilege makes it easier for me to operate and be treated with respect. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t had my share of icky experiences over the years (believe me, I have the some of the most jaw-dropping tarot horror stories) but my privilege gives me opportunities that some of my BIPOC, LGTBQ, and tarot peers with disabilities don’t get.
While the tarot industry has been dominated by white women (yes, there are plenty of men too but go to any tarot conference and you’ll see a sea of white middle-aged women like my self), the tide is changing. We’re seeing more marginalized people standing out as leaders in our community. Representation is important because face it, not everyone wants to go to a white straight female for a reading. Even though I’ve read for every facet of the population and have great empathy, some folks want to work with a person who looks like them and might better understand their concerns.
So what can we do as allies to help ensure that the tarot profession continues to represent everyone and not just the privileged few?
It begins with people like myself promoting the work of BIPOC, LGTBQ and tarot readers with disabilities. We can do that by introducing their work to our audiences through interviews and joint ventures, insisting that they are represented at events, sharing their work on social media, hiring them for cool tarot projects, and buying their services too. We must open the door wide and invite them in.
Because if we want to see true diversity in our industry, it’s not enough to talk about it behind the scenes – we need to be champions for it. It’s time for us to do the work to ensure that BIPOC, LGTBQ, and people with disabilities get the recognition for their tarot work – and the same advantages that we do. Our community of metaphysical pros will be stronger for it.
To my peers who are part of marginalized groups or who feel left out because of the color of their skin, orientation, gender identity, physical or mental disability, it’s time for you to step into the spotlight and claim your place. I see you, I respect you, and I am here to help.
© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2019
image from stock photography