Last Monday, March 27, was the first privilege walk hosted by the Honors Program, CHUSA, and UMOJA. A privilege walk is something that shows people their advantages and disadvantages in society. People can be disadvantaged or marginalized through race, gender, sexuality, economic status, religion, etc… The privilege walk was primarily used for Honors to show white privilege, but also showed privilege in other areas. To start the walk, a group of volunteers lined up on a line. Dr. Chapman then asked a series of questions highlighting different areas where privilege may be found. Some questions had one take a step forward because of a question showing privilege. “Step forward if you got a job or acceptance to school because of a parent or family member.” Some questions had one take a step back, showing where they have had a disadvantage. “Step back if you have ever had to worry where your next meal would come from.” In the end, after the all the questions, there were some gaps across the spectrum. There were a lot more people in front of the line than behind. Most of the people behind the line were African American heritage or Hmong. Then after the walk everyone sat in a circle for a debriefing. In the debriefing the people were asked about how they felt about the walk and other things. During the debriefing some people really opened up about themselves, making it more impactful, and creating a great eye opening experience for anyone who came.
This event connects very well with what Honors 120 is focusing on, hearing the voices of the marginalized. The theme for this semester is racism and white privilege. The main thing was to show the privilege that is not easily seen or in our control. It showed that most of our white privilege are things out of our control. The things that put some people of color behind the line were also out of their control as well. One of the most important things this showed was that no matter our situation- whether or not behind the line- we do not let this define who we are. Our privilege could also then be used to help others up, and bringing equality to all.
To me the privilege walk was very eye opening, but not surprising. It wasn’t surprising because I expected myself and my class to be in front of the line and those who were of color closer or behind the line. It was eye-opening though because of what happened during the debriefing. I saw sides of people I did not know, whether or not they were my friends. It also affected me a lot because my family has a history of marginalizing anyone who is not white and Christian. Through this experience it made me angry because of people like in my family’s of treating people who are “different” feel disadvantaged. It made me feel like it was partially my fault because of my background, even though I do not feel that way about minorities. So while it was eye opening it was also upsetting. I would do this again because it did make me more aware of my privilege. If we did do it again, I would want a more diverse range questions. Overall, I am proud of my class for participating, but more proud of those who opened up because this allowed for us to try and make Concordia a better welcoming place for all.