Q: What is the meaning of the class privilege checklist? Is it meant to make people feel guilty? If not, what is the point?
A: No, the class privilege checklist is not meant to make people feel guilty. The point of the exercise is to recognize one’s privilege. Essentially, recognizing one’s privilege is an act of learning/gaining knowledge.
Q: How is the class privilege checklist insightful?
A: Ideally, as the privileged person checks off the items of privilege in the list, she will realize that many things that she has taken for granted are not things that everyone else has. If you are in university, there are fellow undergraduates at your university that made it to university without having the advantages you had.
If you had previously believed that the obstacles you have overcome to get into university are the same as that of all your fellow undergraduates, you should reevaluate that belief. If you believe that the problems you are dealing with right now as an undergraduate are basically the same for all other undergraduates, you should reconsider. In addition to coursework and relationship problems, other students also have to deal with financial difficulties.
Are you stressed about your math problem sets? Other people in your class have additional “problem sets” that they have to stress over and solve in addition to the assigned ones. Both problem sets (mathematical and financial) take time and have time restrictions. Both mathematical and financial problem sets may not yield solutions, not matter how much time you put into it or how hard you work at them.
Understanding the meaning of the checklist requires thinking about the connections between the items in the list and their cause-and-effect relationships in terms of growing up. The deepness of the exercise comes from recognizing the multidimensional factors of privilege. Class privilege is not just rich versus poor, or even a continuum from the the richest person on earth to the poorest person on earth. Class privilege affects things like access to education, access to technology, seeing other worlds, and whether or not you are a “sophisticated” person.
The class privilege checklist is not meant to be exhaustive, as even each item of the checklist can be studied extensively through discourse and empirical studies. The checklist is meant to promote divergent thinking instead of convergent thinking. Other than recognizing one’s privilege, there is no overarching theme. Each item on the list can be (or are) research topics that have interesting ramifications in social relations.