The term "privilege" is loaded for some people. I get it — it can cause feelings of guilt over something that isn't a favor you asked for. But what I LOVE about this series of posters from the University of San Francisco is showing that what's necessary isn't guilt, but simply awareness. We didn't make the world this way, but we don't have to sit back and just be passive beneficiaries of inherent inequities, either. Just by being aware, you can start to make the world a tiny bit more just. Here are six types of privilege to be aware of and a little primer on what that means.
First, let's all agree that feelings of guilt aren't productive.
When we get to the root of the privilege concept, here's what it is.
There's the privilege of never having to think twice about doing something requiring unfettered physical mobility.
(Lone Mountain is a USF building atop a large hill with lots and lots of stairs.)
There are the built-in perks of being part of a religious cultural norm.
If you're pretty sure that you'll get a chance to explain yourself to an officer and clear up any misunderstanding, you probably have white male privilege (remember, no guilt — we're just discussing concepts here).
Feeling like you were born in the right body comes with some benefits that others don't get to enjoy.
If your honey smooches you before putting you in a cab and you get to ride home basking in good feelings instead of feeling frustrated at dirty looks people gave you:
If you worried about how high your SAT score would be — as opposed to whether you should even take it because college seemed like it's for other people:
Here is what Dr. Walker of the University of San Francisco wants you to know about talking about "privilege."
Some people view discussions around privilege as a bad thing. As if discussing privilege oppresses people or is an attempt to call people out as racist, homophobic, misogynistic, etc. However, that is not the case. Discussions around privilege provide us with a platform to discuss the ways in which society has structurally favored certain groups of people over others and the ways in which we can use the privileges we have to advocate for those who may not be supported by structural systems (i.e., education system, judicial system, health care system). What we often see is that discussions around privilege are met with resistance because people have not had opportunities to discuss their identities and the ways in which they can use their identities to engage in social justice activities or advocate for others.