This step helps pupils understand how ideas about people influence inequality and discrimination.

Activity

Give out copies of the ‘Who has most privilege?’ list below. Ask them to work out which type of individual is likely to have most privilege and power in a society.

Pupils, working alone, should then consider their own personal privilege, or lack of it, based on the ‘Who has most privilege?’ list. They should choose their most powerful privilege and notice how they use it at home, in town, at school or in other situations.

Do they use it only for their own benefit, or for the benefit of others as well? They can then share this experience in pairs.

Who has most privilege? (This may vary according to the country and culture)

  • Skin colour: in many cultures, people with lighter skin
  • Ethnicity: in many cultures or countries, the dominant ethnic group
  • Economic class: richer people
  • Gender: men
  • Education: people with a higher level of education
  • Location: people who live in urban centres, especially a capital city
  • Nationality: people from some countries have more travel privileges than others
  • Language: people who speak the main language of the state
  • Religion: those who follow the main religion of the state (if there is one)
  • Age: in many countries, youth is admired but most leaders are middle-aged
  • Expertise: in many countries, those who have held important positions in their field of work are regarded as experts
  • Profession: people in jobs that require more education
  • Health: people with athletic bodies without impairment
  • Sexual orientation: straight (heterosexual) people
  • Psychology: non-emotional people.

(Adapted from A. Mindell, 1995, Sitting in the fire. p. 62 Portland: Lao Tse Press)

You can introduce the idea of ‘intersectionality’, or an individual experiencing more than one form of privilege or discrimination at once. It takes into account people's overlapping identities and experiences in order to understand the complexity of prejudices they face.

This video provides a child-friendly illustration of intersectionality. 

Ask pupils to consider two or more of the characteristics above and how they might ‘intersect’ in one person.

They could start by choosing two characteristics that have led to them facing discrimination and then move on to characteristics that have resulted in them having privilege.

To build a deeper understanding, pupils can watch this short video of a group of adults in the USA carrying out a ‘Privilege walk’ and talking about their feelings afterwards.

Privilege may be invisible to those who hold it, as this cartoon ‘On a plate’ illustrates.