Thinking About Privilege
by Adrian Holmes /3 min read
As a placement student here at SKATTLE, I am lucky to get an opportunity to soak up all the great learnings, including being exposed to new knowledge and resources.
If anyone asked my housemates, my bus driver or my cockatiel, they’d tell you that I am always attached to a book! One of the great articles I have read lately is from a collection of colleagues working at the Dulwich Centre.
It’s a beautiful article asking really tough questions about the way the world operates, and about the often invisible influences of power which can be present in our lives.
The article defines privilege as:
The word ‘privilege’ is used in a particular way to describe unearned rights, benefits, immunity, and favours that are bestowed on individuals and groups solely on the basis of their race, class, culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, or other key characteristic. (Raheim, 2004)
The writers discuss the importance of looking at privilege and dominance.
If we do not proactively look for the unseen ways that our lives are made easier, we can miss the ways that our clients, friends or colleagues lives are made harder.
They go on to illustrate some examples of the impact of privilege, including
- Walking to your car at night as a woman and always having a back-up plan;
- Going into your child’s parent-teacher interviews from work in labourers’ clothes and wondering if you’ll be taken seriously;
- Walking down the street with your gay partner and being aware of not holding hands;
- Always having colleagues asking to spell your name and giving up because it’s “too hard to say or spell”.
One thing that’s really struck me about this article and reflecting on this stuff is the stories that I might have been missing. Learning to work as a post structuralist practitioner, I am constantly trying to ask about the possibility of alternative stories and unseen skills.
By acknowledging that the world can be racist, I can move into asking questions that elicit stories of skills and strengths. How do the young people and families that we work with at SKATTLE hold onto values of hope and and stay strong when they are confronted with racism?
By acknowledging sexism, we can then ask the young women we work with, how do they challenge the unfair or the unwanted expectations of them?
As a practitioner, I want to be aware of the reality of privilege and dominance in people’s lives, and to ask questions which facilitates conversation about the alternative stories asking, what could be possible?
We are always interested to hear from other practitioners or client’s experience. If you are interested in reading more about privilege and dominance, please check out the Dulwich Centre article above. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
What could be possible in your work or life, if we were to think about challenging privilege?
What skills do you use in doing this?
Bye for now,