Thursday, March 24, 2011

Power and Privilege

I talked to my students today about power and privilege. While they were quick to condemn the wealthy for not being aware of their privileges, my students struggled for an hour and a half to list their own privileges. And even then they listed privileges as they felt they were slighted out of by the truly privileged.

It's a tough task to know what privileges are handed to you based on your gender, social economic status, sexual orientation, religion, able-body, or other identity statuses. We all have them and half of us think we earned them as "rights" not privileges.  From the little things you don't think about like being able to watch a movie with characters that look similar to you or being able to kiss your husband in public. To the much larger things you might realize like being able to sleep soundly in a warm bed, in a warm house, without any real fear of a bomb hitting your house. There are people in this world that worked just as hard, saved just as much, and did all the "right" things who aren't enjoying your privileges.

One of our readings for today was Peggy McIntosh's paper on White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. It's a very interesting read. It can be found here: White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

Another interesting read is by Linda Black and David Stone called "Expanding the Definition of Privilege: The Concept of Social Privilege". If you can get your hands on the article it's in the Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, volume 33. Black and Stone discuss the idea that we all have some privileges and that these privileges are based on our many social identities (gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc.).

A very interesting and long night!

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