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Privilege for sale activity

 

Age Group: Stage 5 (Years 9 and 10)
Duration: 20-30 minutes (depending on the depth of discussion)

Objectives

  • To achieve an understanding of privilege and oppression
  • To provide an opportunity for learners to empathise, connect and reflect on the experience of having/not having privilege
  • To identify the privileges that exist in the society we live in today
  • To reflect upon what types of privileges (social, financial, legal etc) are important to them and why that may differ from others in their group.
  • To investigate and discuss what groups may have limited access to what privileges and effect that lack of access may have on an individual.

Materials

Note

The term ‘race’ is complex. Race is a social construct and for the purposes of this activity, it is used to refer to a group of people who may be thought of as a unit because they share a cultural or linguistic background or similar ancestry.

Lesson plan

  1. Divide students into small groups, no more than 4 people. Spread out the groups if possible.
  2. Explain the directions:

    “For the purposes of this activity, we are going to imagine that we are living in a world where none of you have any privileges. You have been given a sheet that has a list of privileges on it. As a group, you have to purchase these privileges from your teacher. Each privilege costs $100. In a moment, your group will be given an amount of money. This is the amount of money you’ll have to spend on purchasing privileges. You’ll be given a few minutes to discuss which privileges you would like to buy. Once you have decided on your privileges, mark them on your list, and we will come together as a group and discuss.”

  3. Check to see if the group has any questions on the directions.
  4. Pass out dollar amounts for the different groups on scrap paper. Each group will be given different amounts of money ranging from $300-$1400)
  5.  Give the groups approximately 10 minutes to review the list of privileges, discuss and decide which privileges they would like to buy.
  6. Discuss the activity as a whole with the group. Ask each group to present to the rest of the class explaining the following:
    1. How much money they were given
    2. Which privileges they chose to purchase and why

Discussion Prompts

How did this activity make you feel?

  1. For some people this is a new experience because they’ve never thought of privilege in this way, or in a list form like this.
  2. It can sometimes be a deeply triggering or frustrating activity because perhaps you don’t have access to a lot of these privileges and seeing all of the privileges in a list can be challenging.
  3. For others it can be deeply moving/emotional because they’ve never thought of all the privilege that they do have before. This can bring up feelings of guilt or even feelings of shame for taking things for granted.

How did you go about picking your privileges? How did you justify purchasing them over others?

  1. Some groups go democratic of everyone gets to pick one privilege. Groups with less money often don’t have the opportunity to go that route.
  2. Sometimes different amounts of money change our priorities. Often times groups with less money will make different decisions than if that same group had had more money.
  3. Often times conversations about values and about life goals come up when folks begin picking privileges.

Was there anything on the list of privileges that surprised you?

  1. A lot of times people don’t realize all of the privileges that they take for granted. And that’s often because privilege is invisible to those of us who have privilege.

Why do you think the privileges had to be purchased with money and not objects or ‘tokens’?

  1. When you have more money you can actually buy privileges, you can move to new locations where some of the social privileges may be more easily accessed or you can hire a lawyer to manage adoption paperwork for instance.
  2. Money is a form of privilege. When you have money you may not be as concerned that you could lose your job or may be rejected from housing.
  3. We take money very seriously and we understand how it can affect our decision making processes.

Why do you think we gave different groups different amounts of money?

  1. Sometimes you can think that you that you only have $500 until you realize that someone was less privileged than you and then all of a sudden the $500 feels differently.
  2. It can create animosity between groups even though the groups were simply assigned the money and it was really the facilitators who should be receiving the animosity.

What have you learned from this activity?

 

Resources

  • McIntosh, Peggy, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack (1989)
  • The Safe Zone Project, Privilege For Sale (2019)
  • Manitoba Association for Rights & Liberties, Privileges for Sale Activity (2019)