Definition of entitlement
b :a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract
2 :a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group; also :funds supporting or distributed by such a program
3 :belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges
Where did this notion of entitlement come form? Is it a product of citizenship. Are we born with this belief and assumption? Why does the term entitlement and its promises bother me so much?
As a child that grew up receiving government assistance, I was embarrassed to be a recipient of a government ‘hand-out.’ I despised taking food stamps to the grocery store and sometimes even resented my mother for accepting the lifestyle which I felt was a chosen one. I blamed my people, African-American people, for our plight because, I felt that my poverty would always define me negatively! So I rebelled against all the stereo-types and misconceptions. I no longer wanted to be labeled as an African-American woman. I wanted to receive equal rights under the law and feel like a deserving American citizen.I planned to make my own way in the world without being given any more favors. But, I didn’t have the money or resources to attend college without the help of government assistance. I did apply for a scholarship and I was awarded an artistic scholarship for $1,000.00 toward my first year of college. I believed that I earned that honor, even though, the rest of my financial aid package was comprised of government grants and student loans. I felt at the time, that I was on the Road to Empowerment and exiting Entitlement Lane. This was the only working definition of entitlement that I had in my wheelhouse back then.In college, I would see other students who had not walked through the front doors of our Public Ivy with any sense of shame. They had come from stable affluent families where the word entitlement applied to them more as a right of passage. These young people always belonged to a Class System where their American citizenship meant that they would receive all their privileges with open arms. I would see them act as if they didn’t have to earn anything for their betterment. If they needed something or wanted something, they would make their desires known and as if by magic their wishes were granted. That really made me feel confused and left a bad taste in my mouth! Why wasn’t this type of entitlement held under a spotlight of scrutiny?
These students reminded me of a kitten that I once had. It would do what ever it pleased, destroy clothing, eat another pet’s food, urinate in an inappropriate place in the closet, and what punishment would befall it…you ask? It would be coddled, pampered, and all kind of excuses would be made to defend its reckless choices! It was then, that I realized that, the word entitlement
was loaded with a lot of subjective power. It could be used to minimalize one group and empower another. The real problem is that both perspectives of entitlement are wrong and dismissive because, they offer false generalizations used to foster division between groups of people who should have an enforceable mutual relationship.
I want to argue that no one has the right to feel entitled. We are supposed to be on a level playing field as native born American citizens to these United States of America. We honestly are not from birth! There shouldn’t be wealth in contrast to disparity which has created a Wealth Gap
between racial groups. No one child should have a birth advantage over another. I believe that the only way we can grown up as healthy empowered individuals, in this capitalist society, is to value one another for our differences. One’s group’s standards shouldn’t be superior to another’s groups standards. If you stop assuming, that you know what it must be like, to have walked in my shoes, I will stop thinking that I understand how your walk made it easier for you to stand up taller than me! The belief in this Notion of Entitlement leads to destructive assumptions and stigmas. Entitlement in any form is never a good thing!