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Recognizing Privilege

DPEP 2013
by

Cassandra Duplacy

on 9 March 2013

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Transcript of Recognizing Privilege

A look at the privileges and misconceptions surrounding ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sex, and
able-bodiedness Recognizing Privilege Ethnic Privilege Privilege Defined Ethnic privilege refers to societal, economic, and political advantages that one ethnicity is argued to experience above one or more other ethnicity groups in the same social, political, or economic spaces(workplace, country, school, etc.) The first step to recognizing ethnic privilege in American culture is to recognize white privilege. White privilege, as described by scholar Peggy McIntosh, is “like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks” Language as Ethnic Privilege "This is America, why should I have to press 'one' for English?" Socioeconomic Privilege Socioeconomic status is defined as the social standing or class of an individual or group. It is often measured as a combination of education, income and occupation.

Differences in socioeconomic status often reveal inequities in access to resources, power, and control. Status as a Privilege Like ethnic privilege, many people who benefit from socioeconomic privilege may feel that their privilege is earned, deserved, or even nonexistent.

Despite the fact that wealth can be earned, the privileges that come along with being wealthy(or being born wealthy) are not.

Furthermore, the ability to 'earn' the privileges of being wealthy come from other privileges such as racial privilege, gender privilege, ethnic privilege, and cultural/language privileges. Level Playing Field? Privilege, as we defined earlier, is the unearned advantage of an elite group. Those who start out in a higher economic class experience privilege over those who do not. Despite the common belief that all people start out on a level playing field, we know that this is not true. Privilege is an unearned advantage, right or perk that is not available to everyone, but only an elite group. Therefore, to be privileged is to be advantaged. This can include economic inequality, racial privilege, class discrimination, religious privilege and the advantage of a sexual-orientation. To be underprivileged is to lack the opportunities or advantages enjoyed by other members of a privileged community. In this presentation, we will focus on the privileges and misconceptions surrounding ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sex, and ablebodiedness. Those who are privileged may hold certain misconceptions about the privileges they possess.

They may feel entitled to these privileges or they may believe that these privileges do not take place. This can be as subtle as a white-colored makeup or stockings being titled “neutral” or “flesh colored”, as obvious as opening up a newspaper and witnessing a sea of white faces, or as overt as being able to take a job or attend a college without being accused of being a case of affirmative action. This common statement perfectly defines language as ethnic privilege. Considering one language as more important or "better" than another language based on region, country, or ethnicity.
This question is raised because many privileged people in America view the country as an Anglo-Saxon country.
Non-English speakers are often considered to be 'unamerican', 'uneducated', or are ridiculed based on their first language or accent.
Tax forms, job/school applications, phone lines, mass media, and road signs are all in English. Even this presentation on privilege is in English. This puts all English speakers at an advantage over non-English speakers. Culture and Ethnic Privilege Culture within ethnicity plays a huge role in privilege.
This can mean the privilege of one culture over another, one religion over another, or one type of dress over another. An example of this is being treated differently based on cultural wear. A person wearing 'western' clothing can pass through an airport neutrally and with little discrimination based on their clothing.
However, a person wearing traditional Muslim clothing is stopped and harassed based on nothing other than their dress and ethnicity.
This is ethnic privilege. Those who enjoy the privileges of the higher classes have better access to high levels of education, pre-education, books, healthcare, birth control and sex education, safer neighborhoods, and the monetary means and access to opportunities for happiness and prosperity. Another privilege that the upper class and those in high levels of socioeconomic status enjoy is that it is assumed that they work harder and deserve better treatment.

Due to this privilege, those who are deemed “poor” or on a lower socioeconomic level are then perceived as ‘non-working’, ‘lazy’, and deserving of their lesser treatment because ‘all they have to do is work hard, and then they will experience the privileges of the upper class’. Privileges of treatment Privilege addressed This privilege is addressed by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer:
“…Make no mistake, poverty is not a problem we can look at as isolated in inner cities or depressed areas of rural America… And contrary to the stereotypes of some, these low-income families work. Over 70 percent of all low-income families with children have an employed parent. And more than one-quarter of all working families with children in the U.S. earn less than twice the poverty line… Poverty is not an abstract issue for these families, and it can’t be for us [either]” Examples of Class Privilege The middle and upper class can advocate for their class to politicians and not have to worry about being seen as looking for a handout.

New products are designed and marketed with upper/middle social classes in mind and if they see something advertised that they really need, they will be able to buy it.

The upper/middle classs can commit a crime without people attributing it to the low morals of their class and will be able to hire a decent attorney.

In the case of medical emergency, the upper/middle classes won’t have to decide against visiting a doctor or the hospital due to economic reasons.

If a middle class or upper class person chooses to wear hand-me-down, thrift, or second-hand clothing, this won’t be attributed to their social class, and may actually be considered stylish.
Upper/middle class schools are expected to have updated textbooks, computers, and a solid faculty.

College is expectation for the upper and middle class (whether they chose to go or not), not a lofty dream.

People aren’t surprised if they realize an upper/middle class person is intelligent, hard-working, or honest.

An annual raise in pay at an upper class or middle class job is measured in dollars, not cents.

Regardless of the season, an upper class or middle class person can count on being able to fall asleep in a room with a comfortable temperature.

When an upper/middle class person flips a light switch in their home, they don’t have to wonder if the light will come on (or if their utilities have been terminated).

The “dream” of a house, a healthy family, and a solid career isn’t a dream at all for an upper/middle class person, but simply a plan.

People don’t assume a middle class person has made an active choice to be in their social class, but instead assume that the person is always working to improve their status. Sex Privilege Sex privilege refers to the unearned advantages or rights granted to a group solely on the basis of their sex. In societies with male privilege, men are afforded social, economic, and political benefits simply and completely because they are male. A man's access to male privilege varies depending on his other characteristics such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and social class. Sex privileges involve equal pay, gender roles(who gets what role), and the double standards that revolve this privilege. The Privilege of Pay One privilege that men enjoy is that they earn about 1/4 more than women do for the same work. Say a woman makes about $75,000 a year in her career. Her male partner, who works at the same firm, under the same supervisor, makes $100,000. He is no better at the job than she is.
This is sex privilege. Some may say employers must pay women less because of the risk that women will have to take time off for their children and maternity. However, this is just another example of male privilege.

Men have children as well, but they are not considered a bad worker or as a pay risk because of it. However, if women do not take time off for their children and concede to a lower pay, they are a 'bad mother'. This is an example of the double-standard privileges we will explore later. Gender Roles and Privilege Gender roles are a privilege for men.
They determine how men and women should think, speak, dress, and interact. Learning plays a role in this process of shaping gender roles.
In general, men learn that the role of head of government, heads of religion and other places of major power and influence in our society are reserved for men. They are also taught that the role of head of the house, 'breadwinner', and leadership roles are also reserved for men. They are taught to speak their minds, dress as they like, and think 'like a man'.
However, women are taught to speak softly and not offend, to stay out of politics and 'men's work', to dress as modestly or as sexually as society dictates at that time, be the caretaker of children and to think 'like a woman'.
This gives men a greater ability to choose their path, while women are taught to stratify themselves within gender roles. This is a privilege men have. The Double Standard Privilege There is a double standard that applies to women and not men, which offers men a great privilege.
Just two examples of many:
If young men are sexually active, they are praised by their peers and are told "boys will be boys". However, sexually active young women are slut-shamed and disrespected.
Men who choose to have a career over family are praised, and though it is not expected, men who choose to take off of work for children are especially praised.
The choice for women is much more difficult. Should they take off of work for children, they are then paid less and differences in pay are justified. Should they choose their career over family, or run for political office, they are considered to be a bad mother and the question of "who will take care of the children?" is raised.
This question is never raised for men who choose to work or run for office. Men have the privilege to be able to choose without repercussion based on their gender. Women do not have this privilege. Able-bodiedness: A privilege overlooked Able-bodiedness is the last privilege we will address in our presentation today. The privilege of able bodied people is often overlooked and taken for granted. Able-bodiedness: An institution Most institutions, expectations, and social structures are set up to accommodate able bodied people. This puts able bodied people at an advantage over disabled people. Those who do not fit the standard of able bodied or “fully able" are underprivileged because of this.
Many buildings, classes, and places of employment are not set up to accommodate the disabled, despite laws saying that they must. This can affect the lives of the disabled in just about every aspect. People with disabilities are treated differently and are often alienated because of their difficulties with mobility, communication, and fitting into societal norms. Able bodied people have a better chance at fitting into society and communicating with others, which gives them a significant privilege. Able bodied people are better represented in movies and the media, making it easier for them to fit in. Able bodied people are also at an advantage because technology, infrastructure, and building structure is geared towards them, giving them another advantage in fitting in. Privilege in Society Examples Having cars on the market that they can afford and are built to accommodate their physical abilities

Not having to worry that they won’t be able to participate in school events or sporting events because of physical handicaps

Not having to worry about their physical make up or energy levels

Not being denied a job because of physical ability or mobility

Not being talked about or treated differently or pitied because of physical appearance

Not having to answer awkward questions about their physical appearance or mobility

Not having to worry about affording to purchase visual or auditory aides or having these issues with hearing or seeing. Privileges that able bodied people enjoy that disabled people do not: Privilege: Why it matters and what we can do In order to live in a truly free diverse world, we must all recognize the privileges we possess and the privileges of others. To have a privilege over another human being solely because of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sex, able-bodiedness, or any of the other identifiers we mentioned is simply wrong, but there is a lot we can all do to rectify it. When you can see that someone(or yourself) is being underprivileged or discriminated against based on any of these identifiers, SPEAK UP. Our voices are our strongest weapons against prejudice, discrimination, and privilege.
Educate others who may not recognize their own privileges because knowledge is power and that knowledge can bring great change.
Lastly, always be aware of your own privileges and the misconceptions that may surround them. Do not justify them as earned privileges or disregard their existence. We all have different experiences due to factors in our lives, therefore recognizing privileges and the misconceptions surrounding them allow us to have a better understanding and respect for the people around us.
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