What is privilege?*
When people hear they belong to a privileged group or benefit from something like "race privilege" or "gender privilege," they don't get it, or they feel angry and defensive about what they do get. Privilege has become one of those loaded words we need to reclaim so that we can use it to name and illuminate the truth.... As Peggy McIntosh describes it, privilege exists when one group has something of value that is denied to others simply because of the groups they belong to, rather than because of anything they've done or failed to do. ... The existence of privilege doesn't mean I didn't do a good job, of course, or that I don't deserve credit for it. What it does mean is that I'm also getting something that other people are denied... The ease of not being aware of privilege is an aspect of privilege itself, what some call "the luxury of obliviousness." - Allan G. Johnson, Privilege, Power, and Difference. P. 23-25
1. Please identify one or two identity groups, from the list below, in which you have privilege.
2. Reflect on situations listed for your identity. Take a few minutes and jot down your reflections to these questions:
- Reading the example of situations and thinking about my privilege, I felt .........
- How does this kind of privilege show up in my actions (consciously or not) at work, in my community or in other settings?
3. Ask yourself. What might I do to be more aware of my privilege in my daily activities.
- How might your experience as a white person differ from the experience of a person of color in:
- applying for a job?
- passing police on the street?
- preparing your child to go to school for the first time?
- How might your experience as a cis heterosexual person differ from the experience of an LGBTQ person in:
- expressing affection, love and comfort in public?
- preparing to introduce your partner to your family of origin?
- participating in a lunch discussion at work on what you did this weekend?
- How might your experience as a Christian differ from the experience of a Jew, Muslim, or Atheist in:
- testifying in court?
- arranging time off at work to celebrate a religious holiday?
- openly displaying religious symbols without fear of disapproval, violence, or vandalism?
- How might your experience as an able-bodied person differ from the experience of a person with a disability in:
- commuting to work each day?
- negotiating where the annual work dinner is to be held?
- how people interpret an expression of anger or frustration?
- How might your experience as a man differ from the experience of a woman in:
- taking the car to a repair shop?
- walking to your car after the store closed at night?
- reading your performance evaluation in which colleagues describe your performance as aggressive?
- How might your experience as a professional wage earner differ from the experience of someone who is unemployed in:
- responding to school requests for supplies for your children?
- responding to old acquaintances who want to meet up for lunch?
- answering a want ad for a job 60 miles away?
*The content in in this blog post was created in collaboration with The Center for Assessment and Policy Development (CAPD), MP Associates and World Trust Educational Services, funded by The W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Last Summer, we offered a series of free film clips about racism and its impact on our society. To this day we hear how deeply the clips supported meaningful and nuanced conversations.
To continue to support your conversations, today we launch the Summer of #JusticeandHealingNOW! In the coming weeks we'll be offering free film clips on JUSTICE and HEALING, right to your inbox each week.
The clips are from our upcoming film (coming in 2017) and explore:
- How do you define the meaning of justice?
- Why is addressing trauma such an important component of justice?
- How do our current structures create disproportionate outcomes for people, young people in particular of color as well as the poor and disenfranchised?
- Why and how do our current structures need to be changed if we want to ensure that children are treated well?
The world is crying out for healing - healing of inequitable actions and of unfair, unjust systems. And, equally important, the world is crying out for the deep internal healingthat allows us to more effectively come together to educate, organize and work towards a world that works for everyone. In community we can heal, support and renew while sharing the analytical tools and facts that allow us to be effective.
At World Trust, for the last 20 plus years, we've found our films to be effective pathways to building community and capacities for working towards racial equity. Watching films and clips allows individuals to simultaneously self-reflect and learn while offering a common touchstone for conversations with others to discuss our deepest needs, hopes and strategies for creating a more just world.
This summer we hope these film clips from our upcoming film will move, inspire, and invite you to engage in conversations with others - family members, friends, colleagues and community members. Feel free to share the clips as widely as you wish. We also will be #ConnectingGoodWork by featuring some like-minded organizations that work for an end to cycles of pain and suffering via our Facebook page. We can't wait to connect with you in the coming weeks!
Topics: Talk about Race, Shakti Butler, Community Building, Summer of #JusticeandRacialHealing, #WorldTrust, #ConnectingGoodWork, restorative justice, Race, Racism, bias, #TogetherForChange, Justice, Healing, systemic inequity, school to prison pipeline