‘Privilege’ is one of those words that gets thrown around a lot lately. The idea is that there are systems in place that benefit some people or put them at an advantage at the expense or while limiting others. Those who benefit from the systems are privileged.
During our Cuso SKWID training, we talked a lot about privilege and how to be aware of ours when we are working with people who have not had the same advantages. We did an exercise similar to this quiz from BuzzFeed, and I found it to be very helpful in understanding not just the advantages I have enjoyed, but also the ways in which I haven’t been disadvantaged, which also set me ahead of others. There was never any question in my mind that I am privileged, but it was interesting to see in what ways.
A big part of being culturally sensitive is awareness, or “checking your privilege.” Once we begin to recognize our advantages or limitations, we are better equipped to understand the perspective of the people around us. Once you see how good things are for some and how difficult they are for others, it is a lot harder to accept the status quo in the systems that run our world, and it makes it easier to take action to change them for ourselves and others. If nothing else, it hopefully breeds some compassion in us.
I HIGHLY recommend watching the video below and then taking the BuzzFeed quiz they reference. I don’t love the idea of people having a specific number to reference when it comes to their advantages and disadvantages – are we supposed to be impressed by high scores or low ones? – but I think the questions are a helpful tool to see the multi-faceted ways we have benefited and been limited by the systems that run our world.