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My Name is Simone Joyaux. And I win. But Not Quite.


My name is Simone Joyaux. I’m a white, heterosexual, well-educated, affluent woman. I win – except for my gender. It’s a disadvantage to be a woman in every country in the world and in every state in the US of A, where I live.

But because I’m white and heterosexual (accidents of birth) – and well-educated (thanks, mom and dad) – I “win.” It’s called unearned privilege.

Stop talking about “disadvantage!” Instead, let’s all of us focus on our unearned privilege. Try examining that angle of your life.

My life partner and I have a family slogan: “People eat, sleep, dream, and make love in languages other than English, in colors other than ours (white), and in pairings other than opposite sex. And we think that’s beautiful. We fight for that.”

Life partner…I once promised myself not to use the word “husband” until there was marriage equality in the USA. Now there is marriage equality here. But hell, “life partner” still can agitate audiences and I love that.

Thanks, Papa Georges, for raising me to recognize and respect differences – and welcome them. Thanks, mom and dad for giving me the opportunity to experience life differently through family and friends and travel to other countries and try different foods and learning another language and…

The US Constitution talks about equality but never mentions equity. Equality isn’t enough. Equality means fairness and equal rights and opportunities. Equality means treating everyone the same.

But that presupposes we’re all the same. We aren’t. Equity means ensuring that everyone has what’s needed to participate in life equally.

Ah, such great advantages because I was born white and heterosexual. I got a good education because my family could pay for it.

I do remember, however, when newspaper job postings were separated by male, female. I sure know what it means to be socialized as female and male – awful for both women and men, boys and girls.

So I fight for equity. And that means I support affirmative action because that’s the only way that we achieve equity.

I believe in justice, social justice. And that requires such enormous social change that I’m pretty damn sure I won’t live to see it.

I live in a country that has to have the Black Lives Matter movement because we’re still gunning down African American citizens. We haven’t even had a female president yet – and yes, that is sexism. And on and on and on…

I love philanthropy. I firmly believe that people and businesses have the right to choose where to give – in order to fulfill their own aspirations. One’s alma mater. The literacy organization down the street. My favorite theater or dance company. Fighting global climate change. And on and on.

But I wish that more organizations and more people actually understood social justice – and the enormous need for huge social change. I wish more donors gave through organizations to achieve justice.

My name is Simone Joyaux. I win because I’m a white, heterosexual, well-educated, affluent person. But I lose as a woman.

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13 Comments. Leave new

  • “People eat, sleep, dream, and make love in languages other than English, in colors other than ours (white), and in pairings other than opposite sex. And we think that’s beautiful. We fight for that.” LOVE!!!

  • Kimball Cartwright
    March 8, 2018 3:02 am

    Simone, good post and I share your desire that more donors give to organizations to achieve justice; and a belief that people get to pick what they do with their own philanthropy. Unfortunately, the two things lead to under-resourced social justice organizations – precisely because of the unseen privilege you’ve identified. Any additional thoughts on what role does/could “the fundraising community” play in this dynamic?

    • Hey, Kimball. No easy answers, as you can imagine. Lots of conversations in various venues. In professional associations. Amongst nonprofits. At conferences. On the internet. Professionals and donors. Foundations. All talking about systems change. Public policy. Professional publications and conferences . Each of us raising these issues in family and social situations, at board meetings, and and. Organizing in big and small ways. Let’s just start conversations .

      Make sure our own organizations welcome all donors. Stop focusing on “major donors” and “major gifts.” Work with your community foundation to start social justice funds, e.g., gender, LGBTQ, race… So that’s a start.

  • Simone, I heart this. Thanks.

  • Simone: you’re always an inspiration!

    You speak truth to power – and to fundraisers. You ask those cage-rattling questions. Thank you for helping us see our privilege, understand intersectionality, and offer another lens ton look at life.

  • Equality v equity – my brain just exploded. Great blog!

    • Christiana Stergiou
      June 28, 2018 6:56 pm

      Hi Drew! I couldn’t agree more. So amazing that Simone helps us think about things differently.

  • Susan Sweitzer
    July 17, 2018 12:07 am

    I was deeply moved by your blog entry.
    What I wish onto no one is the phenomenon whereby a person spends most of her young adult/adult life advocating for those without a voice (for equity), to only see most of what has been accomplished systematically undone, piece by piece, law by law, until she has to ask herself, “Has all that effort been for naught?”
    I SO want my end to come during a hopeful up-cycle.
    There is one hope…
    Leaving your children with a legacy of activism is like fighting from the grave.
    It is how I cope with it all.

    • Thank you for this beautiful response, Susan. Indeed, such sadness. To see that racism is so alive and well in the USA. To realize that the USA has moved down in the rights of women – not up, according to the World Economic Forum. I think the US situation will take us backwards for several generations – particularly through the Supreme Court.

      I hope that other countries will move forward – and serve as an example to the USA. I hope that human beings here, there, and everywhere … will become stronger activists.

      Thank you, Susan.

  • I have been blessed to hear you deliver this message in person. Thank you for sharing such powerful statements and for pushing us all to be aware of who we are and how each of us can and should make change.

  • Susan Sheldon
    October 22, 2020 8:11 am

    I fight for affirmative action because we cannot function at our best without having everyone at the table. It isn’t about ensuring that everyone gets a fair shot. It isn’t about quotas. It isn’t about making up for disparities going back to the luck of our birth, or 400 years or more. It IS an acknowledgment of the very real value that comes when ALL our voices are represented. At schools, workplaces, non-profits, EVERYWHERE. Every place is made better with representation from all members of a community.

  • Jackie Carpenter
    October 23, 2020 7:42 am

    Wow! Powerful and brilliant. Thank you for sharing.


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