Why is it important to check your privilege?

By Litzy Baeza

On March 23 the Equity and Inclusion in Co-ops Community of Practice met. Our topic and focus of discussion was centered on Positionality. “Positionality” refers to how differences in social position and power shape identities and access in society. Privilege is a big part of positionality and is the focus of this blog post.  

We ask that you watch the video Sometimes You’re a Caterpillar for context. 

Asking people to “check their privilege” can be an uncomfortable part of discussions. It is also, very often, a necessary one. Discussing topics like discrimination and racism can be tense for folks, particularly when people with differing identities have trouble understanding another’s struggles and empathizing with them. The video simply and effectively describes what it means to have privilege. 

This difference in experiences is at the core of privilege and emphasizes why it’s an important concept to remember and speak about. Oftentimes a person is not able to see someone else’s perspective until they have been exposed to equity-deserving groups’ challenges. In the video the caterpillar did not see the snails’ challenges until they were confronted with them. Eventually the caterpillar works with the snail to find another way to the party. This is part of being a good ally – ensuring those with access to spaces and resources help those that don’t have the same access. Further, this is part of moving towards inclusion and equity. 

Join us on May 25 as we dive deep into the topic of power dynamics and introduce a power mapping framework to advance equity. Sign up here!  

 Walk Away Reflections: 

As you watch the video and read this blog, think of the following questions. 

  • What is a privilege you have in your life that you might take for granted? 
  • What is a struggle you face that others might find surprising?