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Deconstructing Privilege: Teaching and Learning as Allies in the Classroom



Although scholarly examinations of privilege have increased in recent decades, an emphasis on privilege studies pedagogy remains lacking within institutions. This edited collection explores best practices for effective teaching and learning about various forms of systemic group privilege such as that based on race, gender, sexuality, religion, and class. Formatted in three easy-to-follow sections, Deconstructing Privilege charts the history of privilege studies and provides intersectional approaches to the topic. Drawing on a wealth of research and real-life accounts, this book gives educators both the theoretical foundations they need to address issues of privilege in the classroom and practical ways to forge new paths for critical dialogues in educational settings. Combining interdisciplinary contributions from leading experts in the field-- such as Tim Wise and Abby Ferber-- with pedagogical strategies and tips for teaching about privilege, Deconstructing Privilege is an essential book for any educator who wants to address what privilege really means in the classroom.
Edited by Kim Case, Ph.D.
Foreword: Teaching about Privilege: Transforming Learned Ignorance into Usable Knowledge
Peggy McIntosh
1 Beyond Diversity and Whiteness: Developing a Transformative and Intersectional
Model of Privilege Studies Pedagogy
Kim Case
Part I: Transformative Pedagogy: Teaching and Learning about Privilege
2 Pedagogy for the Privileged: Addressing Inequality and Injustice without Shame or Blame
Tim Wise, Kim Case
3 Deconstructing Privilege When Students Resist: The Journey Back into the Community of Engaged Learners
Kim Case, Elizabeth Cole
4 Teaching Social Justice Ally Development among Privileged Students
Paul Perrin, Sriya Bhattacharyya, Daniel Snipes, Rebecca Hubbard, Martin Heesacker, Jenna Calton, Ruperto
Perez, Jill Lee-Barber
5 “Colorblindness is the New Racism:” Raising Awareness about Privilege Using Color Insight
Margalynne Armstrong, Stephanie Wildman
Part II: Intersectional Privilege Studies Pedagogy
6 Teaching Privilege through an Intersectional Lens
Abby Ferber, Andrea O’Reilly Herrera
7 Intersectionality and Paradigms of Privilege: Teaching for Social Change
Cerri Banks, Susan Pliner, Morgan Hopkins
8 Recognizing Privilege by Reducing Invisibility: The Global Feminisms Project as a Pedagogical Tool
Desdamona Rios, Abigail Stewart
9 Intergroup Dialogue Pedagogy: Teaching about Intersectional and Under-examined Privilege in Heterosexual,
Christian, and Jewish Identities
Adrienne Dessel, Johanna Masse, Lauren Walker
Part III: Privilege in the Classroom: Strategies and Applications
10 Are We Queer Yet? Addressing Heterosexual and Gender-Conforming Privilege
Markie Blumer, Mary Green, Nicole Thomte, Parris Green
11 Class Action: Using Experiential Learning to Raise Awareness of Social Class Privilege
Wendy R. Williams, Kala Melchiori
12 Teaching the Taboo: Walking the Tightrope of Christian Privilege
Kim Case, Mike McMullen, Beth Hentges
13 Blazing the Trail: Teaching the Privileged about Privilege
Lisa Platt
... Attention to identity privileges-primarily racial-as historically invisible reinforcers of oppression has mostly come from social psychologists, sociologists, educators, counselors, and rarely from clinical psychologists (Lewis, 2004;Watt, 2007;Pinterits et al., 2009;Todd et al., 2011; Frontiers in Psychology 02 2012; Case et al., 2013;Goodman, 2015;Littleford and Jones, 2017;Johnson, 2018). This literature reveals a lack of clarity in how the term "social privilege" is defined and used as a broader construct that could unify anti-oppressive discourse and practice across academic and professional areas of the field. ...
... These new guidelines represent the first time the APA as an organization has mentioned or endorsed the inclusion of privilege and power in research, education, and practice. The foundational work of scholars, such as McIntosh (1989), Tatum (1997), Helms (1984Helms ( , 2017, Liu (2011), Spanierman and Smith (2017), Goodman et al. (2004), Goodman (2015), Case and Cole (2013), and Case (2012Case ( , 2017 suggest it is critical for psychologists to begin reflecting on their social privilege awareness to provide ethical and multiculturally competent treatment and services. The American Psychological Association (2017) further encourages not only a self-reflective process in alignment with these authors, but also a broader understanding of the forces of privilege and oppression that operate at large. ...
... Thus, the benefit of articulating a developmental process of social privilege more broadly is increased accessibility and application to any identity domain with less risk of essentializing a group or of pinning an individual to a distinct process when they might resonate with a more diffuse process. Case and Cole (2013) directly addressed the struggle with resistance to privilege that many educators face by encouraging attention to alternative privileged identity domains to facilitate reflection and progress. Second, this model acknowledges the effortful intrapsychic process that accompanies linking oppression to social privilege. ...
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Introduction Although the American Psychological Association encourages clinical psychologists to recognize and understand the experience of social privilege both within themselves and the individuals and communities they serve, there is a dearth of research in the field to guide this pursuit. According to the available literature, an essential barrier to social privilege integration is its implicit and covert nature that prevents consistent consciousness due to hegemonic forces. Methods This study explored the process, from initial social privilege awareness to the moment of the study, through individual interviews. A social-constructivist, grounded theory approach was utilized as it was aligned with the understudied phenomena oriented around social justice. Results The result is a developmental model of social privilege integration that explicates accumulated exposures to privilege, the resultant threat to and protection of personal identity, and the conducive factors that lead to reconciliation. Discussion Implications of this theoretical model include the importance of a developmental perspective to cultivate an understanding of individual prejudice attitudes and discriminatory behaviors, as well as a roadmap toward equitable change. This model may be used by clinical psychologists across multiple settings in response to the most recent APA multicultural guidelines.
... All participants described relationships that were built on qualities like trust, warmth, and transparency that supported their ability to confront their own privileged identities and subsequent blind spots more readily. Literature on privilege awareness in classroom settings (Case, 2013;DiAngelo, 2018) and clinical development (Combs, 2019;Hernández & McDowell, 2010) implies that this process relies on social interaction but does not make this connection frequently nor explicit enough. This finding adds needed clarity to the ways in which relationships act as catalysts to this process. ...
... This finding was unique to this study as it had not been found in privilege awareness literature. However, the interconnectedness of privileged and oppressed identities has (Case, 2013;Hernández & McDowell, 2010;McGeorge & Carlson, 2010). Hernández and McDowell (2010) proposed a critical postcolonial lens that, as they say, "goes beyond a multicultural perspective . . . to offer a framework anchored in the analysis of hierarchies of power, privilege, and oppression that create intersectionalities of life experience . . . ...
... Nor was it implying the work of consciousness raising and empowerment regarding marginalized identities is not important. However, what is clear is the process of privilege awareness is different than the process of marginalized identity awareness (Case, 2013;Case et al., 2012). The unique emotional reactions, the self-confrontation needed to acknowledge and address the holding of power, and the dismantling or relinquishing of power are unique. ...
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Part one of this study broadens the scope of privilege awareness of couple and family therapists (CFTs) to include any identity that holds power in society. CFTs were asked to complete timelines of privilege awareness experiences and participate in a semi-structured interview. In total, 12 therapists were interviewed. Thematic analysis revealed that the influence of close relationships on the process was a consistent theme that facilitated the privilege awareness process. Other common themes included exposure to diverse populations and experiences, processing emotions like guilt, shame, and anger, reconciling the privilege awareness process through evaluating the past, and seeing privilege awareness as a constantly evolving process. Findings provide groundwork for a theoretical model of privilege awareness raising in clinical training settings. Clinical and training implications are discussed in greater length in part two of this study.
... First, understanding the similarities that undergird white racial identity can provide important insights into how whites are racialized and how this racialization results in unique racial formations that can be shared in anti-racist training. In particular, demonstrations of the whites' shared "groupness" may better help "well-meaning" whites to understand the consequences and responsibilities that come with their racial group membership, even when they are exemplifying ideologies or practices that they do not see as intentionally racist (Case, 2013). This work also has implications for race-based social justice movements. ...
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Conversations about whiteness in the U.S. have become increasingly common in recent years. Yet, there is still much deliberation about what whiteness is. Existing research has demonstrated that whiteness is a homogenizing force, investing all white people in institutions and cultures that maintain white supremacy. Yet, recent studies have also explored the situated nature of whiteness by demonstrating how whiteness varies based on space, time, and the social location of the white people who embody it. Hegemonic whiteness, a framework that explores how inter- and intra-racial hierarchies are sustained via dominant ideologies and practices, provides insights that account for these seemingly opposing trends. In this paper, I further develop the framework of hegemonic whiteness using Connell’s (1987), Connell and Messerchmidt's (2005), and Messerschmidt’s (2019) framework of hegemonic masculinity. Next, I operationalize the dominant affective, attitudinal, behavioral, and cultural standards associated with one particular type of whiteness: notably hegemonic whiteness in the US context. These standards provide important insights into whiteness by demonstrating the baseline expectations whites from disparate backgrounds are expected to embody to fully reap the “wages of whiteness”. Such understandings can contribute to more effective anti-racist education programs and race-based social justice movements.
... Although scholars in other fields have significantly contributed to our understanding of pieces of the privilege awareness process (Case, 2013;Chan et al., 2018), particularly with regards to racial awareness (Haskins & Singh, 2015;Hays et al., 2004;Walls et al., 2009), how clinical roles change as awareness of multiple privileged identities increases is still unknown for the field of CFT. Accordingly, this study used qualitative thematic analysis to explore CFTs' perceptions of how privilege awareness influenced their clinical work. ...
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The first of this two-part article series presents results from an analysis of how Couple and Family Therapists (CFTs) became more aware of their privileges. This second part specifically explores the clinical implications of privilege awareness on the therapeutic work of CFTs. CFTs participated in semi-structured interviews and identified common themes by which their privilege awareness influenced their clinical work: intrapersonal cultural attunement, interpersonal cultural attunement, socio-cultural theoretical attunement, and systemic attunement to policies and procedures. Using these identified themes, clinical implications for training and practice will be provided, including recommended questions for discussion as part of the process. Training programs and supervisors can utilize the following results and implications of part one and two of this series to consider the importance of facilitating the privilege awareness process as they help students build multicultural competencies.
... Those who benefit from privilege often, even mostly, resist the companion implications of privilege: If some are underprivileged due to systemic oppression, that means I am overprivileged within that system (Case, 2013;Gleig, 2020;McIntosh, 1989). Righting that imbalance means others must gain while I have to stay static or lose something (Saad & DiAngelo, 2020). ...
Purpose: Widening participation has increasingly been implemented to address the inaccessibility of medicine as a profession. However, 'less privileged' students who do 'get in', often struggle to 'get on'. This participatory action research project (PAR) gives space to medical students, who identify as 'less privileged' to express and explore their experiences. Methods: PAR is underused in health profession education and is shown to increase marginalised communities' hope for change within historically oppressive structures. Here, participants and the researcher become partners in the process of developing research agendas and discussing themes raised in analysing marginalising experiences in medical education. Using an intersectional approach, students self-referred to join comics-based workshops and 1:1 interviews. Comics were used to elicit data and as a tool to analyse complex and interrelated themes raised. Participants re-imagined their experiences into how they wish they had happened to develop ideas and actions for change. Results: We present four students' detailed accounts of marginalization where their lived experience, feelings and ideas give us a source of knowledge to challenge classist, racist, and sexist degradation widespread in medical culture. In particular, class elitism negatively impacted three women of working-class origins. Alongside other critical theorists, Bourdieu's work is used to understand how social class hierarchies are reproduced in medical culture, healthcare and society. Conclusion: This project was an action in and of itself, creating a space to build community for marginalised students who feel 'peripheral' to commonly performed medical culture. Further actions were put forward for the medical school to implement as part of the decolonising and diversifying the medical curriculum movement. We also call for class to be put on the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion agenda, and for issues of financial insecurity and stress experienced by medical students of working-class origins to be recognised and further addressed within medical education.
Considering White College Students’ Views on Privilege explores the “how” and “what” behind White college students’ understanding of privilege to support educators in their instructional efforts. The author synthesizes scholarship, original empirical research, and contemporary examples to describe common viewpoints about privilege and explain how they came to be and are reinforced in society. Starting from the premise that learning can most effectively occur when educators are aware of and engage White college students’ prior knowledge about privilege, the author describes specific ideas, beliefs, and feelings used to either reinforce a view of privilege as individualistic or advocate a structural understanding of privilege that is pervasive across society. The book concludes with specific recommendations to help educators to enhance their practice and institutions to review and revise their policies and practices that sustain the ideas, beliefs, and feelings central to Whiteness. This book is principally written for college and high school faculty and staff seeking insights to develop different approaches to cultivate an understanding of privilege that is structural and promotes social change, as well as for anyone interested in engaging in thoughtful conversation about privilege and social inequality with their White peers.
Research concerning Indian American Christian college students’ experiences is virtually non-existent, leaving scholars and student affairs professionals lacking empirical data to support this population. This qualitative study explores how the experiences of 15 Indian American college students involved in Christian Student Organizations (CSOs) affected their cocurricular experience and identity development. Findings from the study revealed three major outcomes of CSO involvement: (a) confronting difference, (b) balancing pressures, and (c) creating community. Implications for scholarship and practice are discussed.
The present article focuses on how faculty at two different institutions independently developed academic courses utilizing feminist and intersectional theories to help empower students to “fight back” against college campus sexual violence. As college-aged women have one of the highest rates of sexual violence, it is imperative to provide them with the tools to successfully eradicate sexual violence. We discuss the two main components of our courses, rape culture and allyship, and provide specific assigned readings, class discussion topics, and active learning and reflection assignments to help instructors develop their own sexual violence prevention courses.
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