Tools for talking about privilege

Privilege is a difficult topic to work through! I'm often asked for interactive activities and approaches that help facilitate conversations on racial/class/gender privilege with young adults and adults.  Here are some that I've found to be helpful. I hope they help you too!   1. Starpower – an engaging game that helps people see that some people simply can't get ahead. It's more focused on class/economic privilege but you could adapt it to make it about race pretty easily. It's pretty fun and from my experience, people get really into it. 2. Invisible Knapsack exercise -A classic exercise - and one that is particularly powerful.  It focuses on racial privilege, although you can find gender and class variations on the web.  Works well as a "step forward if you can say yes, step back if you must say no" interactive exercise. 3. Tim Wise is a white privilege expert who is quite an engaging speaker. Depending on the maturity level of your audience, it might be helpful for them to watch this video and here’s a study guide to help you think through the ideas he presents.

4. The White Privilege Conference is in Seattle this year. I've never attended it, so I can't personally recommend it. You might consider checking it out.

5. It'd be great if you all could give your learners an extended "minority" experience in the U.S. - For example, a youth minister could take white youth group kids to a predominantly black summer camp (that's not at all intended to be multicultural).  Might be helpful for the white kids to experience what it's like to be Other. Some good debriefing conversations would be necessary though :)

6. Ask a person of color who is well-respected by your audience to come share his/her discrimination story and effectively "validate" the stories/experiences of other marginalized people.

7. Use this interactive web game that shows how race/ethnicity affect everyday life experiences:

8. Read this very helpful article "How to talk to someone about privilege who doesn't know what that is" by Jamie Utt

9. Study these Scripture passages together that show Jesus abdicating his privilege in order to be in relationship with us.

John 1:1-14; Philippians 2:3-11; Matthew 1:23

10. Study the Parable of the Ten Talents (Matthew 24: 14-30) and discuss how it relates to the topic of privilege.

11. Pray (a lot).


Some other helpful books/articles:

1. “White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son” by Tim Wise 2. “Homecoming: A ‘White’ Mans’s Journey through Harlem to Jerusalem” by Curtiss DeYoung

3. “Uprooting Racism: How white people can work for racial justice” by Paul Kivel

4. Common Expressions of White Privilege and How to Counter Them by Ilsa Govan, M.A. and Caprice D. Hollins, Psy.D


And remember: conversations about privilege aren't easy - for either the privileged or oppressed.  Lots of grace is needed. Keep asking for it and keep giving it!

If you have other ideas, please share them in the comments section!