What is Power and Privilege?
What factors influence Power and Privilege?
What is intersectionality?
Intersectionality is a framework for conceptualizing how a person, group of people, or social problem can be simultaneously affected by a number of different discriminations or disadvantages. The theory of intersectionality was popularized by Kimberlé Crenshaw, in her 1991 article “Mapping the Margins”. In the video below, Kimberlé explains what intersectionality is and why it’s important.
What does it mean to be an Ally?
Being an ally means using your privilege to help support people who are facing oppressions that you may not be experiencing yourself. For example, you may be an ally for LGBTQ+, Indigenous, or Black people, despite not personally identifying as LGBTQ+, Indigenous, or Black, respectively. However, being an ally is about more than just adopting a title. Allyship is hard work and requires a lot of time, dedication, and commitment.
Here are some different things to consider if you want to contribute to a cause as an ally:
- Listen – Take the time to listen to people who are experiencing the oppression. This may require you to question your own beliefs and biases and change your mind about things that you have previously believed. Listening can be awkward, uncomfortable, and emotional, but it is always necessary. Ask respectful questions and make space for them to speak more than you.
- Learn – although it is important to learn from people who are experiencing oppression, you cannot expect them to teach you everything. It’s your responsibility to consult reliable resources (ex. books, documentaries, blogs) and learn as much as you can on your own time.
- Speak up – speak up when you hear people say things that are oppressive, disrespectful, or prejudiced. Start the conversation by saying something like, “That’s not cool” or “Why did you say that?” and try to help the person understand why their words might be oppressive or disrespectful.
- Educate others – Educate others within your own community. Being a member of a privileged group means that your voice is heard more when you speak about an issue, so use your knowledge wisely. Start with talking to your family, friends, and peers.
- Create space – create and maintain safe spaces for people of all different backgrounds and experiences by being inclusive, respectful, and accepting.
Where can I learn more?
What will students learn?
By the end of this lesson, students will be able to…
- Recognize different types of power, the relationship between power and privilege, as well as the factors that influence power and privilege
- Understand how power imbalances affect relationships and contribute to conflict or competition
- Articulate and experience what it feels like to be in a position of higher and lower power
- Identify where power and privilege may be contributing to conflict or injustice within Canadian communities and abroad
- Acknowledge effective strategies for addressing power and privilege
Black, L., & Stone, D. (2005). Expanding the definition of privilege: the concept of social privilege. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 33(4), 243–255.
Coleman, A. (2019, March 28). What’s Intersectionality? Let These Scholars Explain the Theory and Its History. TIME.
Fine, E., & Handelsman, J. (2010). Benefits and Challenges of Diversity in Academic Settings. Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System.
Milem, J. F. (2003). The educational benefits of diversity: Evidence from multiple sectors. Compelling interest: Examining the evidence on racial dynamics in higher education, 126-169.
Safe@School (n.d.). Power and Identity. Safe@School.
Wells, A., Fox, L., Cordova-Cobo, D., & Kahlenberg, R. (2016). How racially diverse schools and classrooms can benefit all students. The Education Digest, 82(1), 17.