Privilege and a Human Geography Experiment

In which I talk about a really neat experiment we did in HuG.


We did a really fascinating activity in Human Geography today, and I thought I’d write about it.

So, basically, we walked into the room and, after talking about the recent news (North Korea has an “Army of Beauty” and a priest in South Africa convinced his congregation that Jesus could manifest as insecticide, so not much out o’ the ordinary), we were told we’d head down to the gym for an activity. Most people were just happy to get out of class, and a few of us, namely myself and Aran, had an idea of what was going on. I was interested, and kinda hyped in all honesty.

Once we got there, we had the general premise explained: we were to try and get to the other side of the gym, and take one step forward, backward, or stay in place, based on our answers to various questions. Seems simple enough, yeah? Simple and innocuous. However, in a manner that honestly reminded me of Doki Doki Literature Club, we had this large disclaimer about how she completely understood if any of us felt uncomfortable answering. Weird, right? So, then the questions started going. They started innocent enough, asking whether or not we could blow bubbles with bubblegum, whether or we could whistle, if we were left-handed, that sort of thing.

Then, though, anyone who hadn’t yet picked up on what wasn’t happening became all the wiser. Questions like “Could you trust a police officer to help you in an emergency?”, “Have you ever been affected by drugs?”, “Have you ever been affected by divorce?”, “Did you grow up in an inner city environment?”, “Do you identify as a woman? Take a step back if yes.” (Might’ve been unclear, but all the questions had that “Take a step back/forward if yes” tags at the end). You see what I mean here? The end goal was to get to the other side of the gym, and those of us who fit characteristics that would mean we’re underprivileged spent a really far ways back from the wall. I, being a colored woman born in inner-city Brooklyn with English as a 3rd language who had a parent who dropped out of college (and yes, I technically outed myself as trans to anyone who was looking back and watching who stepped back to the “Do you identify as a woman?” question, although thankfully, the only ones who did already knew) was literally the farthest back of anyone in the group. Unsurprisingly, honestly.

When we went back to the room, we discussed what privilege was, and it was interesting. The other girls and I all talked about the disadvantages of, y’know, not being a white dude, and it seemed to be a pretty positive environment. I especially liked hearing Dr. Zorilla talking about her experiences, being a Latina woman who immigrated to the U.S. That kinda solidarity always feels nice, especially from people who aren’t in your close friend group or whatever. Hell, she even started off by pointing at me and saying “You were talking about being the token brown guy, well I was the token Latina” and I swear, it was great. I’m glad that we have teachers like Dr. Zorilla who’re here to present an underrepresented voice, and to be one of the people who teach my generation about these things. Yeah, I know, there are gonna be people who brush her off outright, for any number of reasons related to their own particular messed up political views that allow for denying the existence of privilege, or holding that only minorities have privilege, but whatever. I’m not letting them shits get me down, and I’m glad that this conversation is happening, whether or not it makes an immediate difference.

So thank you Dr. Zorilla, and everyone else leading these discussions. You’re appreciated.

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