Stepping into the Privilege Walk: A Call to Self-Reflection and Empathy

What is it like to have privileges? Peggy McIntosh - American feminist, anti-racism activist and speaker - asked herself that very same question and created “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” back in 1989. The concepts and questions raised there and then are still current and have been widely adopted in academia and the corporate worlds.

At intive, it prompted teammates to ask:

What would it be like if we thought of our own privileges (or the lack of them) and embarked on a practical manifestation of where we are standing now thanks (or due) to them? That’s how we created this version of the Privilege Walk.

Privilege walk - our proposal

We invite every reader to be part of privilege walk. It has been designed to raise awareness of various forms of privilege and appreciate the diversity of individual backgrounds.

This exercise is not meant to make anyone feel guilty or ashamed of her or his privilege or lack of privilege related to any identity category.

The purpose of this activity is for everyone to have an opportunity to identify and reflect on both obstacles and benefits experienced in their lives.

If you want to embark on, then:

1. Download the Privilege Walk poster PDF - click here

2. Read the statements one by one, taking a step forward (moving a marker to the right) or backward (moving a marker to the left) based on your answers. 

3. Once all the questions are answered, leave the marker and see what your place on the board is. 

4. You may want to invite more people to take this activity with you and observe your position on the board in relation to others. After that, you may reflect together regarding the presence or lack of privileges.

Conclusion about privilege walk

Remember: this is an introspective exercise for you to understand how privilege affects your life, but it is not designed to make you share things that you don’t wish to share or feel ashamed.

As Peggy McIntosh would conclude, “we might at least start by distinguishing between positive advantages which we can work to spread, and negative types of advantages which, unless rejected, will always reinforce our present hierarchies”.

Let’s ask ourselves: What will we do with the knowledge gained after we do the ‘privilege walk’? Will we use it to – in Peggy’s words - “weaken hidden systems of advantage”, or will we use “any of our arbitrarily-awarded power to try to reconstruct power systems on a broader base”?

On our blog you can also read about stress in a workplace and how to manage it

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