Prior to EDU 211 I did not pay much attention to my race or that being white meant I have a different privilege than other colored skin people. Growing up in a predominantly white community, where I can literally count on one hand the amount of people who are not white, I never felt different. It reminds me of when I graduated from high school and the newspaper had the seniors write a profile about themselves and the first question was describe yourself.
I remember writing that I am tall, athletic person who likes to run and make jokes (well something like that), not once did I say that I was a white above middle class female, in fact I didn’t even think about it. Over the course of this class I have learned there is a certain level of privilege that I am given based solely on the color of my skin. According to James Baldwin “White privilege is a set of advantages and/or immunities that white people benefit from on a daily basis beyond those common to all others.
White privilege can exist without people’s conscious knowledge of its presence and it helps to maintain the racial hierarchy in this country”. Because of EDU 211 I realize that I have been living my whole life unaware of my white privileges and taking them for granted. When asked to talk about the topic “white privilege” in class, I right away started to feel annoyed and immediately tuned out. I didn’t want to hear another lecture or comments from others about how we as whites have such a great life and that we are lazy and we only have what we got because we are white.
In the past this topic has been very personal to me because I know what sacrifices my parents and grandparents have made to give me the life I have now. It was not easy or handed to them, they had to work for it. I always questioned how someone who doesn’t even know me can make these accusations about my life. It wasn’t until I read the article “Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person”, that| started looking at white privilege differently. The phrase “white privilege” really made me feel uncomfortable and wanted to get upset. However, this article really turned my attitude around when discussing “white privilege”.
The author Gina CrosleyCorcoran explains that she read an article that explained, “it is impossible to deny that being born with white skin in America affords people certain unearned privileges in life that people of another skin color simple are not afforded. For example “I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented. ” “When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is. ” “I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time. (Crosley-Corcorcan, G. )
Growing up in a primarily white community not once did I feel that I was ever different from the rest. I also never realized that I can open up any magazine and see mostly white people or watch any television show and not feel that I can not connect with the characters because they are a different race than me. This once again is something that I took for granted and did not pay much attention to. The author of this article Gina Crosley-Corcorcan also explains that there are many other types of privilege other than race that people over look as well.
She describes that sexual orientation, gender and ability are just a few things that people are born with that may be different than you and don’t have the abilities to live a free and open lifestyle (CrosleyCorcorcan, G. ). This really hit home for me when looking at all the opportunities I have has a straight woman who is capable of functioning on my own has. I am not physically dependent on someone taking care of me or having to worry what others may do to me because I have a different sexual orientation then hem.
Another article that impacted me was the article written by Nathan W. Pyle who shared a story of a high school teacher who taught a lesson on privilege and social mobility by using a recycling bin and some scrap paper. He asked students to crumple up a piece of paper then moved the trash can to the front of the room. The teacher explained that the students represented the country’s population, and that everyone had the chance to become wealthy by simply making their crumbled piece of paper into the trash can.
This may be easy for the students in the front of the class but for the students in the back of the room it is unfair because they are farther away, making it harder to make. This simple activity demonstrates that the students in the front are unaware of the privilege they were born into. cite This article demonstrated that people who live without privilege (which could be race, socioeconomic status, physical abilities) have a harder chance of succeeding, and that as educators it is our jobs to advocate for those who have a disadvantage from the rest.
After reading class articles and participating in class activities my idea of “privilege” is completely different prior to this class. I know understand what people mean when they say I am “privileged” and that they are not attacking me or accusing me of being lazy, but rather that I have more advantages than most people do and it is easier to accomplish those goals because of the race I was born into.
For my final project I will demonstrate an exercise that will hopefull bring awareness to students that privilege is based on gender, race, etc, by asking students to all line up in a row where everyone is equal. They then will be asked a question where every statement will address some part of privileged based on gender, race, ethnicity, class or sexual orientation. Students will be asked to move to the questions that pertain to them and show that these similar privileges in reality place individuals in different places in society, mimicking the students in the room.