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Recognizing Privilege

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Ellen Mueller2

on 3 May 2017

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Transcript of Recognizing Privilege

We will examine a few issues involved with privilege:

racial & ethnic
socioeconomic status [class]
gender
able-bodiedness
intersectionality

Recognizing Privilege
Racial & Ethnic Privilege
Privilege Defined
Racial and ethnic privilege refers to societal, economic, and political advantages that one race or ethnicity experiences in various spaces (workplace, country, school, etc.)
Recognizing white privilege
Language as Ethnic Privilege
Socioeconomic (Class) Privilege
Socioeconomic status = the social standing or class of an individual or group.
Measured as a combo of education, income & occupation.
Access to resources, power, and control.
Recognizing Status
as a 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 earned.

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?
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
a specific group.
Therefore, to be
privileged is to be
advantaged.
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.
Examples can be subtle or obvious:

white-colored
makeup
or stockings being titled “neutral” or “flesh colored”
popular
publications
(magazines/newspapers) filled with white faces
being able to take a job or attend a college without being
accused of
being a case of
affirmative action
.
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.
English-speakers are privileged.
Culture and Ethnic Privilege
EXAMPLE: A person wearing 'western' clothing can pass through an airport neutrally and with little discrimination based on their clothing. A person wearing traditional Muslim clothing is stopped and harassed based on nothing other than their appearance.

Western apparel gives you privileges.
higher classes = better access to high levels of education, pre-education, books, healthcare, birth control and sex education, safer neighborhoods, and the $$$ and access to opportunities for happiness and prosperity.
People assume high-class people work harder and deserve better treatment.

People assume low-class (poor) people are ‘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’.

It is a self-perpetuating system (high-class continues to receive good treatment, while low-class continues to receive poor treatment).
More class privilege...
Gender Privilege
In societies with male privilege, men are afforded social, economic, and political benefits simply because they are male.

Male privilege can be affected by other characteristics such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and social class.

EXAMPLES: equal pay, gender roles determined by society (cooking/cleaning/childcare/etc)
The Privilege of Pay
One privilege = men earn about 1/4 more than women do for the same work, regardless of skill or ability.
Some may say employers must pay women less because of the risk that women will have to take time off for their children.
However, this is an 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'.
Gender Roles and Privilege
How society dictates men & women should think, speak, dress, interact

MEN: (greater ability to choose their path)
heads of government/religion/other places of major power/influence
head of the house, 'breadwinner'
leadership roles are also reserved for men.
men are taught to speak their minds, dress as they like, and think 'like a man'.

WOMEN:
taught to speak softly/not offend
stay out of politics and 'men's work'
dress as modestly or as sexually as society dictates at any given time
be the caretaker of children and to think 'like a woman'.
Able-bodiedness:
often overlooked and taken for granted...
Most institutions (
buildings, classes, & places of employment
),
expectations, & social structures
are set up to accommodate able bodied people.
People with disabilities are often:
treated differently
socially alienated because of their difficulties with mobility, communication, and fitting into societal norms.
Able bodied people are:

better represented in movies and the media, making it easier for them to fit in.
at an advantage because technology, infrastructure, and building structure is geared towards them
Privilege: Why it matters and what we can do
In order to live in a truly free diverse world, we must all:
Examine our own privilege
For example, take an
implicit bias test
to see your own biases: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html
Listen to each other
Practice looking
at situations through a broader, more inclusive lens
Raise the voices
of those who have less power in terms of race, gender, ability, food/shelter, etc.
When you can see that someone (or yourself) is being underprivileged or discriminated against,
SPEAK UP
. Our voices are our strongest weapons against prejudice, discrimination, and privilege.
Remember
it's OK to make mistakes
, but we have to make an honest effort so we can keep moving forward.
According to one study,
white families hold 90% of the national wealth
,
Latino families hold 2.3%
, and
black families hold 2.6%
. Not only that, the Great Recession hit minority families particularly hard, and the wealth gap has increased.

Think about this: while median wealth for a single white woman in the US is $41,000, the median wealth for a black woman is $100. And for single Latinas it’s $120.
That’s almost unbelievable—and it’s a huge racial-justice issue.
http://www.benjerry.com/whats-new/systemic-racism-is-real
If you thought that
preschool
, at least, was a racism-free zone, well… consider that while black children constitute 18% of preschoolers nationwide, they make up nearly 50% of suspensions. When all age groups are examined, black students are three times more likely to be suspended than white students, even when their infractions are similar.
Overall,
black students represent 16% of student enrollment, but represent 27% of students referred to law enforcement
. And
once black children are in the criminal justice system, they are 18 times more likely than white children to be sentenced as adults
. That’s chilling.
http://www.benjerry.com/whats-new/systemic-racism-is-real
Blacks make up 13% of the population, but they represent about 40% of the prison population. Why is that? Perhaps because if a black person and a white person each commit a crime, the black person has a better chance of being arrested. It’s also true that,
once arrested, black people are convicted more often than white people.

And for many years, laws assigned much harsher sentences for using or possessing crack, for example, compared to cocaine. Finally, when black people are convicted, they are more likely to be sent to jail. And
their sentences tend to be both harsher and longer than those for whites who were convicted of similar crimes
. And as we know, a felony conviction means, in many states, that you lose your right to vote. Right now in America,
as many as 13% of black men are not allowed to vote.
Intersectionality
What is that?
We experience life based on a number of
different identities we have.
(gender, age, race, class, religion, ability, etc.)

Intersectionality
is considering the intersections of people's identities rather than just one aspect of their identity at a time. Intersectionality acknowledges & embraces complexity.

For example: you might want to talk about issues important to women, but forget/fail to mention aspects of the conversation important to lesbians, or black women, or homeless women, and so on.
Why it's Important
Discrimination happens on the basis of several different factors at the same time, and we need to have the language and ability to see it, in order to address it.

Think of it as how people of different backgrounds experience discrimination or oppression differently.
For example, from its beginnings,
feminism
focused mostly on the concerns of middle-class white women.

Intersectionality
helps us to see and name that discrimination, so we can combat it in future.

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