Identity Privilege

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Category: Education
     
 

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For teacher education or sociology. Definitions of privilege: White, Male, Class, Christian. Key terms. Hyper-linked resources.

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Identity Privilege:

Identity Privilege Any unearned benefit or advantage one receives in society by nature of their identity Unearned power conferred systematically The extent to which we have any certain privilege varies depending on our place in other status categories. A mark of privilege is that you can dismiss the idea that identifying with your ____ bears certain privileges. 1 Race Religion Sex Gender Identity Sexual Orientation Class/Wealth Ability Citizenship Status Language Body Size Conformity to beauty norm

Exercise:

Exercise Write down all of the ways in which you do not have identity privilege Write down all of the ways in which your identity affords you privilege that you did not earn. 2

White Privilege:

White Privilege An institutional set of benefits granted to those of us who, by race, resemble the people who dominate the powerful positions in our institutions The choice to be ignorant of the histories of non-White people and still be considered well educated. The ability/choice to see yourself as “normal” or “typical”. The ability/choice to see yourself as an individual and not a member of a racial group. The ability/choice not to focus on the “negatives” of US society/history, such as racism. The ability/choice to speak up about racism without being seen as self-serving or radical. The ability to count on your race as a financial asset. 3

Racism:

Racism Racism/Institutional racism: A system of advantages and disadvantages based on skin color that includes the power of the privileged group to discriminate against those not in this group Prejudice: a predetermined notion of something or someone, often based on a stereotype Racial prejudice: the belief that characteristics and abilities can be attributed to people on the basis of their race and that some racial groups are superior to others. Active racist – works to support the system, is willingly prejudiced and knowingly discriminates Passive racist – does nothing to support or change the system, in not consciously prejudiced, tries not to discriminate Active anti-racist – works to dismantle the system, conscious of prejudices and tries to mitigate them, takes affirmative action to counter discrimination 4

Male Privilege:

Male Privilege Your odds of being hired for a job, when competing against female applicants, are probably skewed in your favor. If you have children and a career, no one will think you are selfish for not staying at home. Your elected representatives are mostly people of your own sex. If you’re careless with your driving it won’t be attributed to your sex. You do not have to worry about the message your wardrobe sends about your sexual availability Your ability to make important decisions and your capability in general will never be questioned depending on what time of the month it is. The decision to hire you will never be based on assumptions about whether or not you might choose to have a family sometime soon. Magazines, billboards, television, movies, pornography, and virtually all of media are filled with images of scantily-clad women intended to appeal to you sexually. 5

Sexism:

Sexism Sexism/Institutional sexism: A system of advantages and disadvantages based on biological sex that includes the power of the privileged group to discriminate against those not in this group Heterosexism: A system of advantages and disadvantages based on sexual orientation that includes the power of the privileged group to discriminate against those not in this group. Cis-gender: identifying with the gender corresponding to biological sex (female – woman, male – man) Sexist prejudice: the belief that characteristics and abilities can be attributed to people on the basis of their sexual orientation and that cis-gendered, heterosexuals are superior to all other people. Assumes that cis-gender and heterosexuality is natural/normal and that other expressions of sexual orientation and gender expression are deviant*. Active, Passive or Anti-Sexist 6 * Used to be supported by science, but the medical and psychological communities not longer support these beliefs. See the American Psychological Association .

Middle Class Privilege:

Middle Class Privilege You don’t need to worry about learning the social customs of others If you apply for a prestige job competing with people of a lower class, your social class will be to my advantage. Law enforcement officials will likely assume you are a non-threatening person once they see you and hear you. You can easily speak with your attorney or physician. When making a purchase with a check or credit card, your appearance doesn’t create problems. When you watch TV or read the papers, you can see people of your own class represented in a favorable light. You can walk around your neighborhood at night without legitimate concern for your safety. If you choose to wear hand-me-down or second-hand clothing, this won’t be attributed to your social class, and may actually be considered stylish. Your eyesight, smile, and general health aren’t inhibited by your income. People do not assume based on the dialect you grew up speaking that you are unintelligent or lazy. 7

Classism:

Classism Classism/Institutional classism: A system of advantages and disadvantages based on socioeconomic class that includes the power of the privileged group to discriminate against those not in this group Classist prejudice: the belief that characteristics and abilities can be attributed to people on the basis of their socioeconomic class and that people from higher class, and their cultural values, are superior to those of other groups. Active, Passive or Anti-Classist 8

Christian Privilege:

Christian Privilege You can expect to have time off work to celebrate religious holidays. You can worship freely, without fear of violence or threats. A bumper sticker supporting your religion won’t likely lead to your car being vandalized. If you are being tried in court, you can assume that the jury of “your peers” will share your faith and not hold that against you in weighing decisions. Politicians can make decisions citing your faith without being labeled as heretics or extremists. Without special effort, your children will have a multitude of teachers who share your faith. Without special effort, your children will have a multitude of friends who share your faith. Disclosing your faith to an adoption agency will not likely prevent you from being able to adopt children. 9

Religious Discrimination:

Religious Discrimination No equivalent “-ism”, though sometimes conflated with racism Anti-Semitism: Belief of behavior that is hostile toward people because they are Jewish (ethnic, religious or national) Islamophobia: anti-Muslim racism Religious prejudice: the belief that characteristics and abilities can be attributed to people on the basis of their religion and that people from the dominant or mainstream religious group, and their beliefs, are superior to those of other groups. Bigotry: intolerance toward someone who holds beliefs different from one’s own Anti-religious: some people are anti-religious, against all religious belief and diminishing of and perhaps discriminatory toward people on the basis of their religion 10

Resources:

Resources How to talk to someone about privilege – Jamie Utt Understanding White Privilege - Frances Kendall White Privilege: Unpacking the invisible backpack – Peggy McIntosh Tim Wise Religious Tolerance American Psychological Association Southern Poverty Law Center 11

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