The True Purpose of Discussions About Privilege

For me, learning about privilege helped me to put myself into context.

l realized that my feelings of unease at being called bossy when I didn’t feel like I was any more bossy than the other kids who were taking charge (boys) were not necessarily just problems with myself, they were in part manifestations of larger patterns that all women had to deal with.

Learning about privilege should not be a way to devalue the actions of those in power.

It’s not about the people in power, it’s about the people not in power.

That’s perhaps why it’s a problematic word; it draws attention to the wrong side of the equation (or rather, inequality).

The point is, when black students are taught in school that the language that they use at home and at church with their loved ones is “incorrect” English and they are marked down for it and labeled “bad at English,” that’s reflective of the power dynamic, not of them.

It’s giving the people crushed by the system a map of the structure of the system, so that they can break the cycle of self fulfilling prophesies.

While it won’t solve the larger problem of our systems being based on power imbalances, it will at least help the imbalance be a little more equally spread. Ideally once people achieve more privilege they will use it to help others and not just disconnect from their past, but this comes through true awareness of the system. (If anyone knows of an alternate system in which inequality is not to some degree inevitable, let me know.)

The people who need to hear it won’t fight you on it, they’ll appreciate it.

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Teacher, author, and speaker making learning meaningful through curriculum strategy & creative experience design.

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Maya Bialik

Maya Bialik

Teacher, author, and speaker making learning meaningful through curriculum strategy & creative experience design.