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Check Your Privilege — A Reminder to Reflect on Your Own Privileges

Elizabeth Silva
Staff Writer

Check Your Privilege, a campus-wide social marketing campaign that seeks to raise student, faculty, and staff awareness around social inequalities and privilege, hit campus last week and is reminding the USF community of its own privileges.

“We just hope that people use this as an opportunity to think critically about the world around them and challenge themselves to really consider the implications of structural inequalities and how they, as an individual, can help mitigate the negative effects of social inequalities,” said USF psychology professor Ja’Nina Walker, who is a key member of the campaign team.

The idea for the campaign stemmed from Walker’s research about privilege and the desire to find a way to talk about privilege. In the psychology department, Walker teaches psychological diversity courses and she noticed there was not always a way to talk about privilege. Thus, the idea of a privilege awareness campaign was born. The team has been working on the campaign for six months.

The posters, which ask the USF community to check the different ways that they are privileged, include race, gender, religion, sexuality, and physical ability, will be on campus for two weeks. T-shirts were also distributed to students last week, although the campaign has recently run out. They are also considering having a forum in the spring to continue the discussions on privilege.

The campaign supports USF’s Jesuit mission of being men and women for others, according to marketing professor Sonja Poole.

“In order to effectively advocate for others, one needs to have an awareness of self and the biases and positions within the society in which we live,” said Poole, a member of the campaign team. “Privilege is a touchy subject and it is often unrecognized by those who have the most. It is important to identify and confront issues that affect marginalized people so that we can reduce social and economic injustice and increase societal well-being.”

Design Professor Scott Murray, who is also a part of the campaign team, hopes that at the very minimum, “this will spark more conversations about privilege, and ideally help us all recognize and acknowledge the privilege we each have.”

“I think privilege is something important to recognize that we have,” said junior design major Ray Choi, who formed part of the campaign team, “because it brings to light issues that might go unnoticed otherwise.”

The campaign has officially gone viral. The posters were shared thousands of times on social media sites, especially Tumblr and Facebook, and published in feminist online publications Jezebel and Bitch Media. As a result, there have been numerous requests from colleges across the nation to use the materials on their campuses.  Other media outlets also want to feature the campaign.

“I never expected this campaign to reach the audience that it has,” said Walker. “Although there have been some negative responses, I would say 99% of the responses are positive and people are enjoying the campaign and what it stands for.”

Walker mentioned that the negative comments, which are very few, were typically about people not understanding why there is a need for the campaign and people not agreeing with the wording of certain posters.

“I’ve seen some negative comments [on Tumblr],” said Camille Esposito, a senior double major in design and French studies and design assistant on the campaign. “They’re mostly about the specific situations used to exemplify each type of privilege…The thing is that there are many ways that a person can be privileged–there could have been at least a hundred different situations represented. It’s more complex than the examples on the posters.”

USF’s feedback has been very positive.  Students have shared and posted about the campaign on social media and there has been a buzz around campus.

“I think it’s a good reminder of how fortunate I am, even though sometimes it doesn’t feel like it,” said sophomore business major Celeste De Santiago. She added that there were some privileges on the posters that she did not think about before like the able bodied privilege.

Research assistant and junior psychology major Kristian Balgobin said that he has noticed the positive feedback. “Different professors are trying to get involved [and saying] ‘How can we help?,’” he said. “It’s been all positive feedback, but apparently there was one faculty member that called and was like, ‘I don’t understand this.’”

“I can’t say that I am surprised that a professor is confused as to why our campus needs this campaign, it’s why we created one of our slogans, ‘If you don’t have to think about it, it’s a privilege, but I do find it unsettling,” said research assistant and senior psychology major Sienna Williams. Williams explained that professors are looked to for encouragement to explore different concepts from different lenses.

“If a professor is not able to understand that privilege lenses should be applied to theory and practice [in the same way as an objective lense], then I don’t see how we as students can feel [that] we’ve gained comprehensive and invested understandings of topics being taught to us,” added Williams.

The campaign team includes Walker, Poole, Murray, Balgobin, Williams, research assistants senior Caleb Banks and alum Alex Stallings. Design assistants include Choi, Eposito, junior Veronica Cabanayan, and senior Catherine Bagg. Poole’s Marketing and Society students are also involved.

17 thoughts on “Check Your Privilege — A Reminder to Reflect on Your Own Privileges”

  1. The new buzzword on college campuses these days is, “white privilege”. What that really means is that if you can no longer complain about white racism and discrimination, you can talk about white privilege, whatever that means. (I’m still looking for mine.)

    It’s bad enough that students would be leading the charge on this. Here you have professors leading the charge with this nonsense. Worse yet, they are trying to sell this mantra to young and impressionable students.

    Maybe they should wake up and smell the coffee. We have a black president and a black attorney general. (I just wish they were not this particular black president and this particular attorney general.)

    In addition, since this kind of discourse is never far from mentioning the word Republican, maybe these whiners should take a look at this week’s election where those nasty crackers in South Carolina elected Tim Scott by a wide margin to continue as US senator, and those racist Mormons in Utah elected Mia Love to the House of Representatives. True, it’s just two figures, but it’s a sign that black conservatism just might be making inroads-as it should.

    This continuing emphasis on victimization on college campuses is counter productive. Better that the time in college be spent on getting an education and interacting freely and comfortably with fellow students of all ethnic backgrounds than trying to further divide people on the basis of race.

  2. Just some food for your brain:
    “The deduction from all this is the following: an antisemitism based on purely emotional grounds will find its ultimate expression in the form of the pogrom. An antisemitism based on reason, however, must lead to systematic legal combating and elimination of the privileges of the Jews, that which distinguishes the Jews from the other aliens who live among us (an Aliens Law). The ultimate objective [of such legislation] must, however, be the irrevocable removal of the Jews in general.”

    Adolf Hitler
    Letter to Herr Adolf Gemlich
    September 16, 1919

  3. I called Ja’nin from my house in Central Illinois. I saw a post from a Conservative tweeter stating that this campaign was against white men and heterophobic.
    So, I read an article on it. I could see why he was upset. White men are constantly attacked by the left. MSNBC and many others, must refer to white men as racists 50 times a day.
    So, you have a university in San Francisco promoting this campaign to their whole university. The idea most white men get when they hear the term ‘white privilege’ is “you are resented for the advantages you have in society”.
    People need to remember that the ancestors of white people, went from northern India and spread throughout the whole globe building civilization everywhere they went. They wanted to make life better for their kids…and they did a great job of it. No race of people comes near the success of the Indo-Aryan peoples. From Persians, to Egyptians, to Hittites, to Isaelites, to Gauls, Celts, Saxons, and the Norse.
    So, yes , we designed it, we can take pride in it. Western Civilization is a reflection of the Indo-Aryan soul, along with the guidance of God and His Son Jesus Christ.

    She was not shaming or guilting people.She simply wanted people to recognize the advantages that they have in life. And to empathize (my word to her, which she agree) with those who do not have the same advantages.
    It is too bad she could not use a different term.
    I told her that her idea is a good one. But 52% of Americans will simply shut it out. I suggested she add,
    “If you were born you have the privilege of Life”, this in regards to the 57,000,000 babies, of 25% of all babies since 73′, who have been aborted.
    She considered it, but said she wasn’t adding any. The campaign was meant to be just for the campus, and not nation-wide.
    I just asked that if she add any, that she will consider this. Because as a ProLife activist, I would love for people to stop and consider that 57,000,000 babies we aborted because their mom didn’t have any other choice. MAybe she was poor, or the man was a dead-beat, or whatever. Or maybe, like the lady at my post office, she had this idea that unless you have so much money, your baby does not deserve life,while a wealthy baby would have that right to life.
    This idea that a baby is somehow different because of the circumstances surrounding is mom is rediculous when pondered. Especially for Liberals to be all for Civil Rights and Equality, but for the 7 months old baby in the womb, that same equality and equal rights, is not extended. They call this ‘choice’, if they truly believed in ‘choice’ they would have every baby. How many suicidal infants do you know?

    IF she were to incorporate this into the mix, a conversation across the political abyss could begin. Conservatives would consider the privileges that we enjoy, while liberals would consider the 57,000,000 unborn who were not ‘wanted’, and thus were cut up and tossed in a garbage can.
    One thing that she should remove however is the Christian Privilege. The reason being is Christians are very aware. But we do not call it privilege…we call it a blessing from God to have Christmas off, to be able to worship in a free country, to have food on our tables…this is why we give thanks to God for our food.
    This why Christians FAR out give any other demographic by 10 fold. A REAL Born Again believer will do anything to help people. (please note,the majority of people in churches are ‘cultural Christians’…they go to church because it is the cultural thing to do, but they have no relationship with God or His Son. These people make the Church as a whole look awful. )
    I am all for the campaign. But it should have a broader scope and in its mission to create compassion, be sure to be considerate to white men, to Christians, and to Men. If you dont, it looks more like a Campaign of shaming select targets.

    -Michael Leahy

    1. The idea that you can declare a particular class to be privileged- or, as you put it, adventageous- is a historical cornerstone to the justification of genocidal conduct.

    2. Perhaps if this ‘theory’ were to clearly define an ‘ends’, and transparenly justify its ‘means’, it MAY get some recognition.
      So far, this ‘privilege’ movement is coming across as just another B.S. guilt trip that has nothing to do with me.
      And yet, here I am.

    3. These ‘advantages’, or privileges, are the product of hard work. They are not a systemic problem. It is particularly odd to me that you believe Christians should be removed from this, and yet advocate for the inclusion of others. This is a historically dangerous ideologue. When entire classes are deemed privileged, such privilege is viewed as a problem that must be solved.

  4. I can think of several examples of Black Privilege. One is affirmative action. Blacks can perform poorly at work and if the employer attempts to fire them they can claim discrimination and sue. Blacks are allowed to have pride in their race. Whites who express similar pride are characterized as racist. Blacks can call you a redneck or cracker. No one says the “r word” or the “c word” for these terms.

  5. They have to call it White Privilege, because if they called it White Genocide they would end up meeting the Indians at the Happy Hunting Ground. Let’s all go out and buy some guns now, because we all know how this story ends.

  6. Everyone is talking about White Privilege. They say it’s something all White people have all the time. Whereever there’s a group of White people there is White Privilege. The problem is with us BEING HERE. It’s White GEnocide. The solution to the White problem is to FLOOD all White countries with mass immigration and then FORCE White people to integrate to create a “BLENDED HUMANITY” in all & ONLY White countries.

    Of course there will still be black people in africa and asian people in asia. Only White countries will be FORCE BLENDED.

    White privilege is code for chasing down every last White person.
    Diversity is a code word for White Genocide.

  7. I have long wondered why a list of unearned privileges does NOT include intellect. Being smart is not something someone earns (a person is born with their level of intelligence) and being smart generally gives a person a HUGE advantage over people who are not smart (in terms of power, wealth, incomes, and influence). But, it’s never classified as a “privilege” — why?

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