An article in the Root today on White Privilege put me in mind to revisit my thoughts on what in the past I have termed "societal capital".
I like to think of privilege as a form of capital, and capital as: that which can be leveraged to gain advantage in society. There are many forms of capital - financial (cash), emotional (regulation), cognitive (learning, vocabulary), neighborhood (safety, networking), educational (classmates, teachers), community (stores, libraries, services, parks), parental (this one is huge, maybe most important as it affects all others: family dynamics, stress, relational development, cognitive enrichment, vocabulary spoken), racial/ethnic (treatment and assumptions in society).
These are all interwoven and dynamically linked, interacting in non-linear ways. In combination they open up new avenues of privilege. However, when subtracted and de-linked, they do the opposite. They cut off avenues of opportunity and actively place in the individual at risk for further devaluation of capital. For instance, having a car opens up new job opportunities. But living in a poor neighborhood and having a car stolen can make traveling to work more difficult, which increases stress, increases costs if car payments are still due, limits family engagement, lowers status, etc.