Understanding Privilege

Privilege is a huge, yet unaddressed topic that plays a crucial role in the way that we are treated, see others, and understand the world around us. That is why we made it a priority to discuss the complicated levels of privilege in our society and community, and the impact it makes on our everyday lives.

To teach this, as an entire class, we asked if students had any previous ideas of what privilege means and then read aloud our definition. This was a definition that we as a group had found and agreed conveyed the meaning of the word best. To bring this to a more relatable level for them, we read aloud some statistics. We discussed the gender wage-gap in relation to both gender & race, a comparison of white vs. people of color incarceration rates, and the disproportional levels of anxiety and depression among members of the LGBTQ+ community. Students were very willing and excited to make connections to what major issues these statistics represent and how they effect people in their everyday lives.

Next, we moved into smaller groups of about 8-10 students and a presenter. Here, we dove into the concept of micro aggressions. Many students thought they didn’t know this word, but as we further explained the meaning and gave examples, they quickly realized that they were familiar with these already, even if they didn’t have a name for them earlier. This meant they were able to personally identify with the concept, either through themselves, or through the experience of a loved one. Once we’d developed a good understanding of the meaning and impact of micro aggressions, we tied them back to the idea of privilege and further: how each of us individually and as a group could use our own privilege to combat mistreatment.

Finally, we regrouped and closed off with a few words on how important and valuable the differences between us are, and how they are opportunities for us to learn, teach, and celebrate each other. We reminded the students that each and every one of them has a voice and an ability to learn and empathize, which gives them the responsibility of making a change in our world.