So I had a great experience yesterday, please allow me to bore you with some background information before I strike your attention. I’m a college student studying communications finishing up my junior year in a couple of weeks. I go to a small but beautiful campus filled with some amazing people that I’ve encountered along the way. Anyway I’m in a Media Ethics class and I have to say it’s one of my favorite classes. I’m a thinker and I love being challenged beyond what I believe and what I think is right. My class is rather small and there’s only two colored people in it including myself, by colored I mean non-Caucasian (by no means am I a racist) and we both happen to be women. So anyway yesterday my professor had us do the “privilege walk.” You know that scene from Freedom Writers when everyone lines up on a line and after answering questions you either take a step forward or a step back? Well yeah that’s what we did. I must say I was surprised by where some people were after all was said and done. The first surprise came when I noticed my professor was a step or two behind me, I knew I had a rough life growing up but didn’t think she of all people a Caucasian female with a degree would be behind me. My next surprise came when I noticed another female two to three steps ahead of me. I thought to myself, “she must’ve had her fair share of difficulties but none like mine.” The biggest surprise came when I noticed my other colored friend about four to five steps a head of me, I expected her to be in front or behind me. This exercise was the biggest eye opener to me for many reason. (If I bored you here’s where it gets good.)
I didn’t grow up in the best of neighborhoods but mine sure wasn’t the worse. My position on the line after my professor was done reading the questions was no surprise to me. First and foremost let me say it is a blessing for me to be standing where I am today. I have not reached my peak yet but I know that I will be successful. I have to stay dedicated and work hard as I have always done throughout my life. I knew growing up knowing that nothing would be easy and I was not privileged to have anything handed to me or given to me. In fact, I had many odds against me. At first when I looked around the classroom I was embarrassed to be as far back as I was. I then realized that I was something special. I was special, because, unlike the people standing in the front of the class I was never expected to be where I am today. I then looked at my humble professor and it filled my heart with pride and hope. It filled me with joy to know that despite the odds against me I can too be successful and make a difference in this world. It made me happy.
This exercise taught me that no matter what society says you can’t do whether, it’s because your color, race, sex, or sexual orientation, you can make a difference. It taught me that I shouldn’t judge someone because of how they look or have pre-notations of someone without knowing them personally. It taught me that just because they’re white doesn’t mean they have money or just because they’re black doesn’t mean their poor. We don’t have to be a product of where we come from. We can go against the limits society and our families set for us.
I challenge you to do a privilege walk and see how you feel after it. You’ll be surprised and shocked at where some of your friends end up on the line I guarantee it. It teaches you to think outside the box and that not everything is what it seems to be. Not everyone has worked as hard as you and some people have had the honor to be given a lot of things. The biggest lesson it should teach you is, not to judge a book by it’s cover.
I wasn’t “privileged” to anything yet I feel like I have everything; and that’s because of all the no’s I received along the way. After doing this exercise I am thankful and blessed.
If you want to do a privilege walk activity of your own or want to understand what it is in further detail click the link: https://indypendent.org/2013/08/17/take-privilege-walk