Skip to content

How To Talk To Someone About Privilege Who Doesn’t Know What That Is

2012 December 8

by Jamie Utt,everydayfeminism.com/ –

I once published a piece about white privilege, and my white friend’s dad lost it. He read it and immediately called his son at work and asked him, “What are you doing right now?”

My friend replied, “Working, why?” My friend worked as a carpet cleaner, backbreaking labor for sure.

“Well, Jamie says you’re privileged. Do you feel privileged right now as you bust your a*s to feed your family?”

“Are you kidding me?!? Screw him! I’ve never had anything handed to me!”

And so the story goes.

How many times have you tried to discuss privilege with someone who is well-meaning but who has no sense of their own privilege and gotten a similar result?

What is “identity privilege?”: Any unearned benefit or advantage one receives in society by nature of their identity. Examples of aspects of identity that can afford privilege: Race, Religion, Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation, Class/Wealth, Ability, or Citizenship Status

After a while, my friend brought up my blog post that pissed off him and his dad so much, and we discussed it.

It didn’t go well. He immediately got defensive, and the conversation ended in anger.

As I reflected upon our talk, I took stock of some of the tools I have been given over the years from my diversity work to make this conversation more accessible and less hostile.

I decided to try again, so I reached out to my friend. The second conversation was tense at times, as any conversation about privilege can be.

But this time it went really well, and I think it did because I worked hard to change the tone of the conversation.

Afterward, I couldn’t help but think, “I need to share these tools!!!” Thus, whether you’re trying to talk male privilege with your dad, white privilege with someone on the bus, or right-handed privilege with your golfing buddy, here are a few things to consider before jumping into the conversation:

1. Start By Appealing To the Ways In Which They Don’t Have Privilege

One of the fastest ways to disarm a person’s defensiveness about their own privilege is to take some time to listen to the ways in which they legitimately do not have privilege and validate those frustrations. Read more…

Share/Bookmark
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS