Pinkbag Series discusses privilege
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Many are silent when the subject of privilege is brought up, but ULM professor Leslie Pace spoke on the topic at the Pink Bag Series in Sandel Hall.
The lecture was hosted by the ULM Femhawks.
Pace spoke on two types of privileges. The first was white privilege.
In her presentation, Pace discuss how in the U.S., people who have lighter skin often times get treated better than people with darker skin, especially during the era of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement.
Pace also explained Jane Elliot’s “Blue Eyes-Brown Eyes Experiment.”
Elliot told her third grade students that students with blue eyes were more special than brown eyed children, giving the blue eyed children more recess time and other privileges.
Within hours, the blue-eyed children thought they were more special, while the brown eyed children felt helpless and unimportant.
“It was crazy to do this to children, but at the same time for us college students, you really can see what praising one kind of person and putting down another can do to people,” Jacob Tyson, a senior communication major said.
Dr. Pace shifted the conversation to Dr. Robin DiAngelo’s term “white fragility” – a state in which a minimal amount of racial stress can trigger defensive emotions or moves.
The discussion expanded into a conversation about privilege in general.
“Privilege emerges from various places,” Pace said. “It emerges from formal education, physical and mental abilities and being in a dominant religion…”
Dr. Pace asked the audience to take a blank piece of paper out and draw a horizontal line through the middle of it. Every audience member started on the same playing field, on that horizontal line.
She then asked questions, such as “Did you grow up in a house with 50 or more books,” “Have you ever been made fun of because of race, gender or sexual orientation,” and “Do your parents own their own house?”
Depending on a person’s response they moved below or above the line. The exercise put things into perspective for senior public relations major Gregory Baccarini.
“Looking over at other students’ forms I saw the difference in how people grew up,” Gregory said. “Some people were way above the line and others way below.”
Dr. Pace ended with some ways of how we all can build a more just world, suggesting we learn communication strategies, acknowledge the biases and prejudices we have and stand up for those who have less.
The second lecture on privilege is March 8 at 11am in Sandel Hall.