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The Problem with “Privilege”


* We are re-posting an article from the blog of Andrea Smith, a long-time organizer, activist, intellectual and co-founder of Incite! Women of Color Against Violence.  Her article provides a variety of important insights, critiques and possible ways forward in looking to improve our praxis in confronting,  with the goal to end, systemic oppression.*

by Andrea Smith

For a much longer and detailed version, see my essay in the book Geographies of Privilege  

In my experience working with a multitude of anti-racist organizing projects over the years, I frequently found myself participating in various workshops in which participants were asked to reflect on their gender/race/sexuality/class/etc. privilege.  These workshops had a bit of a self-help orientation to them: “I am so and so, and I have x privilege.”  It was never quite clear what the point of these confessions were.  It was not as if other participants did not know the confessor in question had her/his proclaimed privilege.   It did not appear that these individual confessions actually led to any political projects to dismantle the structures of domination that enabled their privilege.  Rather, the confessions became the political project themselves.    Continue reading