Privilege, the basics. For Americans.

Privilege is not freedom from adversity. Everyone has bad times. People with a great deal of privilege still suffer illness, death of loved ones, job loss or financial setbacks, insult, or fear. They, too, have to work hard.

People with more privilege than others have more opportunities for the things that make them healthy and wealthy, such as good food, medical care, or access to education. Privileged people have fewer experiences of needing to hide who they are, or change who they are in order to find work or safety.

Privileged people are comfortable in public spaces; the police will help them if there is trouble. Privileged people have support — financial and medical — when times are tough.

Watch this video. (link)

Here are the questions. There are 36 of them. This isn’t a study, it’s a video. The questions are a little random. There is no score key. Where do you think “very privileged” ends and “darn privileged” begins? Where does “not so privileged for an American” end and “you are not privileged for an American” begins?

Their Questions:

  • If your parents worked nights and weekends to support your family, take one step back.
  • If you are able to move through the world without fear of sexual assault, take one step forward.
  • If you can show affection for your romantic partner in public without fear of ridicule or violence, take one step forward.
  • If you have ever been diagnosed as having a physical or mental illness/disability, take one step back.
  • If the primary language spoken in your household growing up was not English, take one step back.
  • If you came from a supportive family environment take one step forward.
  • If you have ever tried to change your speech or mannerisms to gain credibility, take one step back.
  • If you can go anywhere in the country, and easily find the kinds of hair products you need and/or cosmetics that match your skin color, take one step forward.
  • If you were embarrassed about your clothes or house while growing up, take one step back.
  • If you can make mistakes and not have people attribute your behavior to flaws in your racial/gender group, take one step forward.
  • If you can legally marry the person you love, regardless of where you live, take one step forward.
  • If you were born in the United States, take one step forward.
  • If you or your parents have ever gone through a divorce, take one step back.
  • If you felt like you had adequate access to healthy food growing up, take one step forward
  • If you are reasonably sure you would be hired for a job based on your ability and qualifications, take one step forward.
  • If you would never think twice about calling the police when trouble occurs, take one step forward.
  • If you can see a doctor whenever you feel the need, take one step forward.
  • If you feel comfortable being emotionally expressive/open, take one step forward.
  • If you have ever been the only person of your race/gender/socio-economic status/ sexual orientation in a classroom or workplace setting, please take one step back.
  • If you took out loans for your education take one step backward.
  • If you get time off for your religious holidays, take one step forward.
  • If you had a job during your high school and college years, take one step back.
  • If you feel comfortable walking home alone at night, take one step forward.
  • If you have ever traveled outside the United States, take one step forward.
  • If you have ever felt like there was NOT adequate or accurate representation of your racial group, sexual orientation group, gender group, and/or disability group in the media, take one step back.
  • If you feel confident that your parents would be able to financially help/support you
  • If you were going through a financial hardship, take one step forward.
  • If you have ever been bullied or made fun of based on something that you can’t change, take one step back.
  • If there were more than 50 books in your house growing up, take one step forward.
  • If you studied the culture or the history of your ancestors in elementary school take one step forward. If your parents or guardians attended college, take one step forward.
  • If you ever went on a family vacation, take one step forward.
  • If you can buy new clothes or go out to dinner when you want to, take one step forward.
  • If you were ever offered a job because of your association with a friend or family member, take one step forward.
  • If one of your parents was ever laid off or unemployed not by choice, take one step back.
  • If you were ever uncomfortable about a joke or a statement you overheard related to your race, ethnicity, gender, appearance, or sexual orientation but felt unsafe to confront the situation, take one step back.

What they left out tells another story. These questions have their own bias. What is missing? The working poor’s economic existence. The extent of exclusion from public space experienced by minorities.

My Questions:

  • Did you ever sleep in a homeless shelter or on the street because of inability to find or pay for housing, take one step back
  • Did you always have access to clean water in your home, take one step forward
  • Did you ever run out of money to the point where there was no heat in the winter, take one step back
  • Did you ever leave school or drop out because you had to work full time, take one step back
  • Have you had a stranger insult you using an ethnic, racial, or gender/gender-choice related slur in a public place, take one step back
  • Have you ever been caught doing something objectively wrong (like being caught shop lifting) and been questioned and released without being arrested, take one step forward
  • Has your house or workplace or personal property been vandalized with hate graffiti, take one step back
  • Do you have a family member or close friend who was murdered, take one step back
  • Do you have a family member or close friend who was incarcerated, take one step back

 

 

 

 

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