Some very nice question posing in over the very nice blog Inequality by Interior Design: How do you teach privilege without perpetuating privilege?
In a description of running a discussion of Peggy McIntosh’s necessary “White Privilege Checklist”, TBridges writes:
In a more extreme example, students are asked to stand against a wall and to take steps away from the wall based on their answers to a series of questions about various advantages and disadvantages associated with their identities. So, depending on how you run this activity, the end result is either a group of young, able-bodied, heterosexual, white men standing against a wall watching other non-young, non-able-bodied, non-heterosexual, non-white, non-men walk away from them or vice versa.
While this seems like it might (and I stress might here) be a really powerful experience for the young, able-bodied, heterosexual, white men, I’ve always wondered what it might be like for everyone else in class.
In general, I have not found that the more privileged students react to the power of the exercise. I generally find a blowback–a lot of extreme anger, usually directed at me or McIntosh, and sometimes classmates–for daring to ripple the pond about how “we’re all equal now.”
I use a slight variant of the white privilege checklist; I also use class privilege questions, age privilege questions, and heteronormative privilege questions. I developed the quiz for my online class, and I leave the question about how many yes’s you have to have before you have to begin thinking about yourself as “privileged.” That makes it slightly less discomfiting, I think, for students, as they can answer anonymously rather than having to have to deal with each other and having their information just ‘out there.’
I’m not sure how it is working…I’ve been watching their online discussion, and thus far, they have treated each other with a great deal of decency. These are very mature students, however.