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Students sitting at large desks in classroom
Photo by Christine Cousins
Feature

On Privilege: Building Community Through Classroom Conversations

Mandi Hardy

When I first started planning to discuss privilege with my students, I was worried that it would be particularly difficult for the racialized students in my class. I was worried that the message they would hear was that they were somehow less valuable. I did not want to inadvertently reinforce the oppression they might experience in broader society. I was terrified that this would be their takeaway. I was, therefore, very surprised when that was not the case. It was more as if I were telling them the name for something many already had a deep, personal understanding of. In fact, the conversations of privilege proved more challenging for my white students as most had no life experience that had even hinted at the existence of a system that afforded them privilege. It can be hard for privileged people to recognize their own privilege. This can be one of the most difficult aspects of this discussion. It is very important to be clear no one is being blamed, and everyone has problems and struggles, regardless of privilege.

How Can We Talk About It With Our Students?

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