For Multicultural day at Aden Bowman on March 14th, 2018, I watched and participated in the Privilege Walk.
I observed the grade twelves do the Privilege Walk for an hour, then I participated with the grade elevens the next hour. Both experiences were completely different.
Many of the questions were based on your gender, ethnicity, and family. Each group was two classes combined; it was definitely a large group with a variety of ethnicity and a mix of girls and boys.
At the start of the Privilege Walk, everyone held hands in a line in the middle of the cafeteria. Then, when the questions started, people were quickly segregated. The first question was a real surprise to me: “Step forward if you are right-handed.” In my group, everyone except me and another girl stepped forward. I guess I realized that being left- handed is something that is challenging within society. Binders, writing, driving, sports — all of these and many more are designed for right-handed people. Before this, I definitely thought I would be near the front. Since I come from a good home and am Caucasian, I assumed that I am privileged and that I would automatically be near the front. However, there were also many things that I had to step back for because I am a woman.
When I watched the group before me, I realized that almost all of the people at the front were white males. I was not overly surprised. What I was surprised about was the amount of things that were out of our control. Most, if not all, of the questions were based on things completely out of our control. I hate to admit it, when my friends stepped forward toward to the more privileged side of the room, I felt a pull inside me that wanted to go with them. I hated the feeling of being different, being less privileged than my friends are. There was a moment inside me where I was honestly going to step forward and lie so that I wouldn’t be segregated from my friends. When I stepped back, closer to the less privileged side, I felt embarrassed. I felt as though my peers were judging me.
“Privilege doesn’t define who you are. You define who you are.” One of our teachers said after the walk. I realized then that this is not a race. Being privileged does not mean you ‘win’. There was a connection that I felt with the ones around me. Being more in the middle of the Privilege Walk I could relate to both parties. I felt guilty being near the front, as I felt as though I was leaving others behind. I also felt segregated and alone near the back; I felt as though I should be ashamed of things I cannot change.
However, at the end of the day, that teacher is right. You are what you make of yourself. The color of your skin, your gender, your past — all of those things help create who you are. However, the way you portray yourself to the world: that comes from you. The way you act, the way you hold you head high, when you smile, when you laugh, when you make new friends, when you are humble and kind, all these things come from your heart, not from how privileged you are.
By: DANIELLE KERR