Common Privilege Traps and How to Avoid Them

Derailing for Dummies

Learning to be good communicators can be hard work, especially when we are speaking through a lens of privilege.  Sometimes we play into negative cycles because we are not aware of our privileges.  Here are some tips for continued self-awareness.

  1. Share the ownership of responsibility for education and awareness of privilege.
  2. Remember that everyone has the right to speak.  Evaluate what the person says because they always have the right to say it.
  3. If you interpret someone or their words as emotional, hysterical or sensitive, examine whether or not you are able to be rational and detached because you have not actually experienced the issue.
  4. If you interpret someone's concern as trivial or unimportant, consider that setting the agenda is a privilege that should be shared.
  5. If you interpret someone or their words as hostile, aggressive or ill-behaved, take a moment to examine if you are attempting to dismiss their experience, point or argument by dismissing their behavior.  Also check to be sure you did not provoke the behavior for that purpose.
  6. If you interpret someone or someone's words as snobby, uppity, or hoity-toity, consider if you are attempting to dismiss their experience, point or argument by dismissing their behavior.
  7. Just before sharing your reaction, ask yourself if you are actually attempting to make yourself the center or receiver of attention.
  8. If someone's concern doesn't affect you personally, that's a pretty sure sign of privilege.
  9. If you did not see it that way, read it that way or interpret it like someone else did, reflect on whether it is because you have not yet experienced it.
  10. Remember that facts, studies and research is often conducted, led, shaped, memorized and learned by people with privilege, and it is therefore important to value anecdotal, subjective and personal lived experience.
  11. One person's lived experience is valuable regardless of whether it represents or is shared by a greater whole.
  12. If you find yourself thinking the other person hasn't suffered enough to make their claim, understand that you've just illuminated the ladder of privilege and placed them somewhere in the middle; below you and above others.
  13. If you find yourself thinking that someone or some group should act the way they are requesting others to act (first), consider that this is a very easy way to abdicate responsibility.
  14. If you find yourself giving someone an exception to the group rule, then you are illuminating the ladder of privilege by showing that you get to assign the exceptions to the rule, and that you are in fact, the rule.
  15. Having other people agree with you is indicative of shared opinion, but does not indicate inherent worth, value or correctness.
  16. If you find yourself giving advice to someone, consider that you are saying you know what is best for them, which is a pretty sure sign of privilege.
  17. If you find yourself playing devil's advocate, you are most surely privileged.

This guide is an attempt to summarize affirmations from the very funny and well written sarcastic piece called Derailing for Dummies by Revolutionary Rumors PRESS, Partido de la Izquierda Erotica - PIE - Party of the Erotic Left,

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