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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The Privilege Walk Quiz, Part 2 of 5

The Privilege Walk Quiz
Part 2 of 5

Last week we took on questions 1-7, and I received this comment from an anonymous visitor: "What's the purpose of doing this? It frankly reeks of some form of social shaming if by some chance due to randomness as to whether or not one had a middle class upbringing. Isn't there enough pressure/baggage being gay and no need to add this kind of 'woke crowd' crap to our lives? I'm disappointed you would feel the need to do this and will never read your blog again."

At first I wanted to apologize. Then I got angry. Then I laughed. And now... well, I think mindsets like this are exactly the reason we need "woke crowd crap" like this. 

Thing is: if you were lucky enough to live a perfectly middle class life as a child - good for you. No one would hold that against you! I'm not sure why you would feel threatened by the questions in this quiz? It's only going to reaffirm something you already know about yourself. 

And... if you happen to read the responses of others and gain a different perspective based on their answers? What's the harm? Enlightenment leads to understanding which leads to empathy. 

Am I unempathetic with how this (former) reader feels? Not at all.
No one wants to feel guilty. Nobody wants to feel bad, nor should they, for what they've been given in this life. And while that is not what is being asked of them, I do understand their reaction. It's is a natural one... sort of a knee jerk reaction. And if anyone is prone enough to those to recognize one when he sees it? It is I. 

I don't think this person's knee jerk reaction is any different than the woman who was sobbing at a school board meeting, demanding that truthful black history and diversity awareness not be taught at the school her children attended. She explained, through tears, that she was not a racist, she just didn't want her kids feeling bad about being 'white.' 

Again.. nobody wants her kids to feel bad. But the truth is the truth. The truth should be taught so that enlightenment starts the process toward empathy. Her kids needn't apologize for the color of their skin. But sparing someone's feelings doesn't alter the past nor should it be used as an excuse to censor the truth. 

I certainly understand what the woman at the school board was referring to. During the late 1980's I took a college level black history course. I was bombarded with examples of how Caucasians did unspeakable things to keep African Americans down. I was the only 'white' person in the class, and I did feel... conspicuous. Just before the final, I went to the administration at the school and complained - and please don't laugh - that the class was racially-biased. I remember the befuddled counselor looking at me as if I had horns and a third-eye. Of course, I get it now. And would like to report that I aced that final and the course. And, of course, there was nothing wrong with the professor or the curriculum - it was me... expressing my immaturity, my lack on insight - a knee jerk reaction. 'White  guilt' is no different than the guilt experienced by those who come from a privileged background. 

Bottom line: Facts are facts. Fairness? Doesn't always enter into it. It is, indeed, what it is. You simply have to step outside of yourself, your comfort zone, to realize that. Do I feel ridiculous that I accused a  black history class of being racially-biased? Oh, yes. But I learned - because I've never been afraid to learn. I'm just grateful the professor didn't make something of it, which, he did not. 

Well, I hope I've addressed the concerns of the person who left that comment. I'm not demeaning the comment in anyway. I think it's a learning opportunity. I shared with you my knee jerk reactions to it... but ultimately, there is truth in what he says and I felt it important to acknowledge it.   

Now, on with today's questions. (I think this will be a brief one!) Here's the intro from last week:

I am not sure the exact origin of these 35 questions. I know this has been used in the past as a group activity, so that people can start talking about what privilege means. However, it also has it's detractors; folks who feel that in a group setting these "privilege walks rely on the experiences of people with marginalized identities to create a powerful learning experience for people with privilege."

For the record? I'm okay with that. Without information, people do not evolve. If something I have experienced helps someone become a better person? I'm comfortable with that. Get my meaning?

So, consider this post a safe means of taking part in this exercise. While we might learn more about you if you share the circumstances behind your answers, I support one's need for privacy. You may share as much or as little as you wish. But what you share? I would like to believe it might have an impact.

For the next few weeks, we'll be taking on seven questions from the quiz. Explain your answers if you wish, but do keep tally of your points, as we'll share the overall total at the end of week five.

How the quiz works: it's quite simple: for the purposes of these posts, to avoid confusion, we'll be adding or subtracting points, rather than steps. Again... be sure to keep track of your points week to week so you can calculate your total at the end of the 35 questions.

Let's pick up where we left off...

8/ If you can go anywhere in the country, and easily find the kinds of hair products you need and/or cosmetics that match your skin color, plus one point. If not, minus one.

No issues. No hair!


9/ If you were embarrassed about your clothes or house while growing up, minus one, if not, plus one.

I was embarrassed. Not initially. When I was living on the farm and going to a tiny rural school, it never occurred to me. Clothing meant very little and no one ever teased me. That changed when we moved into a small town with a larger school. From day one, my homemade clothing was looked down upon. My grandmother and mother meant well, but kids can be cruel. It stuck. Even after we stopped wearing homemade garments and stuck to hand-me-downs from better-off relatives and the bargain basement wear found on the discount racks, I remained distressed and teased. I remember there was a coat we all bought... it was warm and very colorful... they were on clearance for $1.99 and they were nice coats, but because a family who was even less-well off than we were, also purchased them and wore them... we were appalled to be associated, but... also didn't have the luxury of not wearing them. 

And our house? We lived next to the highway, just this side of the wrong side of the railroad tracks. No, seriously, that was a thing in the small town I grew up in. My time in that town was difficult enough as it was, I can't imagine what it would have been like if our house was on the other side of those tracks. 

Those kids definitely had it worse than I did. Still...


10/ If you can make mistakes and not have people attribute your behavior to flaws in your racial/gender group, plus one point. If not, minus one.

Gay. I was gay. I was so obviously gay, though I passed, sort of, for years. More so, once I was in college and had moved to the Twin Cities, where my idiosyncrasies branded me as 'strange' but not, necessarily, 'gay.' I remember one season in summer stock, a director yelling at me that if I wasn't such a faggot maybe I could understand what it was he wanted from me. This is the same man who once tied my arms to my side to 'teach me' how to act without using my arms. While he was the most egregious, he certainly wasn't the only person to treat me in this manner. 

My fall back position? I always apologized. 

It's what I was taught to do. 


11/ If you can legally marry the person you love, regardless of where you live, plus one point. If not? Minus one point.

Well, we'll see if this remains true... with SCOTUS surely stacked against us? I have a feeling gay marriage is on the block soon, but time will tell. For now?


12/ If you were born in a developed country, 
plus one point. If not, minus one.

I changed this question. It was originally, "If you were born in Canada..." That made no sense to me, except I think I might have downloaded the questionnaire from the Ontario Southwest Health Ministry or something like that. 

I was born in the U.S. 


(For now.)

13/ If you or your parents have ever gone through a divorce, minus one point. If not, plus one.

Ugh. This is a difficult one. 

My parents separated when I was in 9th grade. He moved to Minneapolis, while she stayed to raise us in that crappy small town. They frequently got back together on weekends. I bore witness to a lot of their craziness. For example, during my freshman year in college, my mother called me at 10:00 pm and asked me to drive her to Minneapolis. She wouldn't tell me what it was about. I sat in the car while they had it out on the front porch of the house my Dad was living in. It seemed she thought he was having an affair with a woman at a bar located at Chicago Avenue and Lake Street. My Dad would get lonely and stop in for a few drinks after work. Well, he liked to talk to people. I have no idea how my Mom found out... but... crazy. 

Things got much worse when she joined him in the Twin Cities and set up house again. And because I'd dropped out of college after my junior year and had no where to go, I lived with them. She became incredibly depressed and isolated and it all led to a Thanksgiving I will never forget. Gathered for the holiday meal, my mother proceeded to go around the table, verbally assassinating each of her children and their boyfriends/spouses, until everyone fled, but me - because, of course, I had no place to go. The night ended with my mother in the basement with a loaded shotgun, threatening to off herself. 

I took her at her word. I called 911. It was a terrible scene and, for me, Thanksgiving has never been the same (although, denial is a kindness of sorts.) The good thing is she did get the help she needed and her emotional boat began to right itself. 

Now that's not a divorce. And I'm thankful that did not come to pass, because... I don't think I could have taken my mother ramping up the crazy more than she did. Yes... I am making light of mental illness. But... I think I've earned the right to. 

As for me? Well... I am still legally married to my soon-to-be ex, who... I can't bring myself to divorce because he's got no one else and I promised I would take care of him. And so I will. I consider him family and you don't abandon family. When I broke up with him, I promised myself that I would stop being careless with the people in my life. I plan on keeping that promise. If he wanted something different and was not putting himself in jeopardy in any way, I would do as asked. But, for now... 


14/ If you felt like you had adequate access to healthy food growing up, plus one point. If not, minus one.

It was food. Healthy? Not always...

We had a vegetable garden growing up, so summers were good. 

My family? We always struggled to keep food on the table. And we were too proud to get any sort of assistance, other than visiting relatives at dinner time. Sundays were spent at my maternal grandparents' house, where all of my Mom's siblings and their broods of kids would gather. There was a lot of food, and if the grown ups kept a lid on the drama, we all managed to get both lunch and dinner provided.

At home? Sometimes it was not great. Milk and soda crackers. Popcorn. Beans and wieners on white bread. 

Okay... and this is weird, but it is part of my childhood; we were friends with the town garbage man. He would pick up all the discarded, expired, rotten items from the local grocers, sort through them and, if there was a lot of stuff, give us a cut of the goods. Oh, and we did get some kind of subsidies... we got in on the great government cheese giveaway. And there was this terrible canned meat, which was mostly lard and gristle. Also... we would buy boxes and boxes of dented cans from the local canning factory. The cans didn't have labels, so it was anyone's guess what the veggie of the evening was going to be.

So... yes, I grew up eating weird stuff. 

Was it healthy? Probably not, but we didn't starve, so...


--- ---

And that's all for this week.

Okay, your turn. Leave your thoughts in the comments section. I love to learn more about you. 

Next week, questions fifteen through twenty-one. Until then...

Thanks for reading... and participating.  

Strawberry Letter #23 - Brothers Johnson

Vegetable Town - Barenaked Ladies


Mistress Maddie said...

9--1 but not over the house. My Dad was embarrassing because of his Archie Bunkerness.

10--1 sports was horrendous. I was born with glittering genes not sport genes.


Sixpence Notthewiser said...

They really asked you what was the purpose of the questions? Well, that's why these questions were made: people need to be aware. Too many people just like things the 'way they are' because it's comfortable for them.
In any case, let's go!
8. Point! I can do with drugstore products.
9. Point. My house was average. Nothing too fancy.
10. Minus one. Yep being gay was kind of a drawback.
11. Point. I would be able to get married here in America. Not for long, if the repugs get their way, though..
12. Heh. Born in Canada, right? I think I'd put a point.
13. Minus one. My parents separated when I was teen.
14. Point. My grandma and my mom took care of that.

I'm fascinated reading your history. And I have to say, realizing we have any kind of privilege does not make us 'bad' people. Just people with some kind of privilege. It's very simple.


whkattk said...

8. +1
9. -1
10. +1
11. +1
12. +1
13. -1
14. +1
This weeks' total: 5
We had to take "Race Relations" in the military. No choice. Did most of the white folks feel put upon. You bet we did. It felt like we were being told that, being white, we were directly responsible for the plight of the Black man. Did the Black instructor go a bit over the top? Yes, he did. He was harsh, he was belligerent, at times down right mean. Was he wrong? Maybe not entirely. But, I can say, he did more harm than good because of his approach. It wasn't until I joined a theatre company started by a Black man that I gained an appreciation for what it was like to be Black in White America.

Jimmy said...

8, Never thought about it. I'd was my hair with Ivory soap.
9. Never thought about it. I did have cars. But my dad was in the car business and gave us junkers.
10. Never thought about it. I didn't realize I was gay until I was 18.
11. Yes, and everyone knows I'm married.
12. yes
13. My parents were committed. Though, they might have fooled around....
14. Yes, but at other peoples houses. LOL

This is a great exercise. My total was 6.

Bob said...

8/ If you can go anywhere in the country, and easily find the kinds of hair products you need and/or cosmetics that match your skin color, plus one point. If not, minus one.

No issues.


9/ If you were embarrassed about your clothes or house while growing up, minus one, if not, plus one.

I was about our second house, because it was in a more rural area and had no sidewalks and I thought that meant it was a poorer neighborhood.
Clothes? Not so much,

10/ If you can make mistakes and not have people attribute your behavior to flaws in your racial/gender group, take one step forward.

There was being picked on for being ALLEGEDLY gay.


11/ If you can legally marry the person you love, regardless of where you live, plus one point. If not? Minus one point.

I can. I did.


12/ If you were born in a developed country, take one step forward.

Does Mississipp count? I kid.


13/ If you or your parents have ever gone through a divorce, take one step back.

My sister had two, but parents and me are none.


14/ If you felt like you had adequate access to healthy food growing up, take one step forward.

Access, yes; did we always eat healthy food? Not as a child. I do better now.


SickoRicko said...

Lotsa hot pix!