Topic Discussion – Power and Privilege

There are several materials assigned this week, regarding Power and Privilege and/or the lack of it.

Just by virtue of being college students, getting an education in North America, you already enjoy many privileges that people all over the world can’t assume. In fact, a recent study in Environmental Science & Technology estimates that six out of 10 people on planet Earth don’t have access to flush toilets or adequate water-related sanitation! SIXTY PERCENT!

That means that the simple privilege of enjoying a hot shower, (which you very likely take for granted), is more rare than common among humans on this planet.

Let that soak-in for a moment!

Then review these materials again, and follow the discussion assignment instructions below .

Power Privilege Checklist

The Male Privilege Checklist

Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

Then reflect here on any or all of the following questions:

What surprised you most about the Power Privilege Checklist?
In what ways are systemic privileges communicated throughout our culture? Why are they there? Who benefits from them, and how?
Why might it be challenging for the recipents of various privileges to recognize their own advantages?
The phrase “white privilege,” can sometimes be heard/processed as a personal attack – even when that is not the intention of the speaker. It is common to hear typically non-racist people say something along the lines of, “What do you mean ‘white privilege?’ Nobody gave me anything. I worked hard for everything I’ve ever gotten in life.” The defensive reaction is so common, that scholars have coined the term, ‘white fragility’ to describe it.
Full disclosure: I personally am caucasion, and this was my first gut-reaction upon hearing the phrase for the first time as well. I get it now, but didn’t then. The first time I heard it, it sounded to my subconscious mind like, “Everything you have was given to you because you are white. You have done something terrible to all people who are not white and are enjoying the advantages of that terrible thing you did.”)
So my question is – Does the phrase, “white privilege” get the job done? Is it the best and most effective way to communicate the concept? It certainly seems accurate once one has taken some time to get past that initial, defensive gut reaction – but doesn’t it cause far more people to put up a defensive wall and “fight back” as opposed to listen further? Can you think of a better way to communicate the concept of systemic advantages? Perhaps one that might not be so instantly processed as a direct and personal attack? Or is that, “slap in the face,” a necessary and valuable part of waking people up to the ways that other people experience the world?
What impacts do you feel the various forms of power/privilege and the lack thereof, have had on our society and culture overall? How do they significantly impact you personally?
Feel free to attach or embed media examples that illustrate your points.

When you have finished your reflection, comment in a friendly and meaningful way on at least two of your classmates’ posts. Be sure to start your comment with a greeting that includes that classmate’s name, and leave your first comment for a post that hasn’t received any comments yet.

You won’t be able to see anyone else’s posts until you first leave your own.

Power/Privilege reflection of 300 words or more addressing any combination of the questions above. = 15 points

Meaningful/substantial comments that add something to the conversation, on at least two classmates’ posts. = 10 points

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