Why It Is Important to Teach About Privilege

Anna A Shabsin


They are staring at me, faces blank, but eyes doubtful. They are not buying what I am selling, not seeing the value in what I’m teaching.  My responses to the questions were not good enough. “Why should we care about white privilege? Why should we want to give it up?” I had expounded on the virtues of being politically correct, the invaluable experience of walking in another person’s shoes, the utopian ideal of leveling the playing field—the idea of becoming a “good” person. My group of generally white, generally middle-class or above, generally women looked back at me, unconvinced. I mean, they got that it would be nice to learn these things, but to see their role in it, just for the sake of making the world a better place. They were unsure. What I forgot in that moment is that while it is really hard to see privilege, it is even harder to ponder giving it up. The reward of being a “good” person, or the more dreaded “good liberal,” in someone else’s eyes was not enough of a carrot. So, I settled down and thought about why I was glad I learned about privilege. How the knowledge had changed me, made me see the world differently.

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