Examining Privilege and Oppression – Equitable Teaching

Examining Privilege and Oppression

Examining Privilege and Oppression


This discussion-based activity guides students in understanding privilege and oppression as concepts. Students will recognize the ways their own privileges benefit them and impact daily life or recognize the different manifestations of oppression they face due to privilege(s) they do not hold. If you as an instructor need a refresher or introduction to privilege before leading this activity, please review “An Instructor’s Guide to Understanding Privilege”.

As an extension of this activity, please see the “Invisible Knapsacks” activity guide to push students to think critically about their relationship to whiteness and white supremacy.

Resource Goals:

  • To help students understand various kinds of privilege as well as how in the absence of privilege, groups can experience oppression.
  • To prompt students to recognize and reflect on their own privileges and/or oppression and by the end of the activity, be able to identity how privilege and/or oppression influences daily life and offer examples from their own experiences.
  • To begin to illuminate the larger impact of privilege on daily life and how it relates to oppression as well as to have a greater understanding of the need for individuals to engage in allyhood behaviors.

Anti-Racist Pedagogy Principles:

The following anti-racist pedagogy principles are incorporated into this resource guide. For a review of the principles, visit our Practicing Anti-Racist Pedagogy homepage.

  • Principle 1: Anti-racist pedagogy acknowledge racism in disciplinary, institutional, departmental contexts
    • In this activity, students are asked to think about how privilege and/or oppression show up in their lives as students and in different spaces/places on campus.

  • Principle 3: Anti-racist pedagogy disrupts racism whenever/wherever it occurs
    • Discussing and reflecting on privilege and oppression is an important step in engaging in anti-racism practices. As students acknowledge their own privilege and/or oppression, they can begin to see how their lives are impacted at different levels of racism (internal, interpersonal, institutional).
  • Principle 4: Anti-racist pedagogy seeks change within and beyond the classroom
    • Although this activity takes place within a classroom setting, the discussions and reflections extend beyond the classroom. This activity provides an opportunity to practice reflexivity and examine positionalities as instructors and students. Students also discuss how privilege and/or oppression operate outside of the classroom at U-M.

  • Principle 6: Anti-racist pedagogy focuses on the importance of process over time
    • This activity is not intended to be a one-off lesson. Revisiting this activity throughout the semester is encouraged. Revisiting this activity will help students make additional connections to how privilege and/or oppression show up in and outside of the classroom.

Examining Privilege and Oppression Activity Guide:

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