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Isn't it pretty?

Monday, June 12, 2006

Privilege

We did an exercise in class the other day that is centered around privilege. Our instructor read a list of questions, and with each one, people had to take one step forward or one step back. Questions like, "If your parents told you that you could do anything, take one step forward." Or "if you ever missed a meal because your family didn't have enough money to eat, take one step back." I had engaged in this exercise before - in a camp that I worked at focusing on diversity awareness. It was an extremely powerful exercise and evoked strong emotion as the gap between the participants widened. Doing it in class reminded me of those strong emotions, and made me reflect on the difference between completing the exercise with a diverse group of high school students from all corners of Alabama and completing it with fellow students in a graduate program of a private university. Many of us, probably most of the people I am well-acquainted with, take the privileges we have for granted. I know I often do. We don't think twice about having the opportunity to go to college if we want to. We certainly don't think about where our next meal is coming from, or if we will have money to pay our electricity. Even through our hardest times, things aren't so bad that we have to fight for our very survival. The exercise made me reflect on those privileges - the fact that while I don't have an all-expense paid ride through college, I am able to do it regardless, that no one has really ever stood before my dreams and told me I couldn't manage them. I'm sad that there are people who live like this - and the truth is, there are many. It makes you take a step back and take time to appreciate what you have.

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