When I think of all of the concepts I teach (or try to), there is one that is the clear ‘winner’ because of its difficulty in achieving student acceptance and understanding: Privilege. Sure, students aren’t always quick to pick up the building blocks of semiotics or how arguments are formally made, but privilege beats them all. How do you help a white, straight, Christian male understand that he has always had a societal privilege when he grew up poor? When his parents were abusive? A lot of the time, there is an anger about other elements in his life that blind him to understanding that privilege doesn’t mean “absence of all trouble or strife.” How do you explain to the white, straight, Christian female that she has privilege? How do you explain that when she says, “I don’t see color. I love everyone.” that she does, in fact, see color? That she benefits from a system that privileges her life over that of her non-straight, non-Christian, non-white neighbors? When she mentions that her Black neighbors are nice even though they don’t really talk, but she loves them anyway, she’s seeing the color she wants everyone (including herself) to believe she’s not affected by.
A recent change on Facebook, may be one of the best tools to emerge to help teach students about privilege.