I’m writing a book about how the American criminal justice system treats “privileged” murderers different from others. The murderers’ privileges in my book (working title “Four Murders & a Funeral”) start with being white males and in some cases end with being privileged in yet other ways.)
Because of my book topic, people often ask me what I mean by “privilege.” Well, here’s a definition from a white male who’s also gay, and you wouldn’t be alone thinking ‘maybe he’s not privileged if he suffered from homophobia.’ But, he does feel privileged despite the bullying he’s endured. He defines privilege in the context of the ‘check your privilege’ meme popular in social media these days:
“When someone asks you to “check your privilege,” what they’re really asking you to do is to reflect on the ways that your social status might have given you an advantage – even if you didn’t ask for it or earn it – while their social status might have given them a disadvantage.”
Am I privileged? Exercise 1.
This exercise is oriented to youngish folks, especially white males.
Am I privileged? Exercise 2.
Here’s a Buzzfeed video of an exercise designed to reveal who’s privileged and who’s not.
Am I privileged? Exercise 3.
This exercise taps a bit into the complexities of privilege in a very multicultural society, Singapore in Southern Asia.
As someone interested in social engineering, I’ve watched Singapore attempt to meld several different racial, ethnic, and national groups into a single nation. Since founding president Lee started in the 1970s, he’s engineered bold new concepts in housing, schooling, and other institutions to unify groups that used to fight and wage war endlessly.
On a recent visit there, I sensed his experiment was successful, tho at a draconian price. His government put in place new norms and rules to homoginize the disparate lifestyles of various Chinese, Indian, Malay, etc. groups. The severe penalties for violating these offended most in the West, but the hope is that such measures won’t be necessary after a generation or two are re-socialized to a new, 21st century “Singaporean” lifestyle. In other words, punishments for spitting, chewing gum in public, keying a car, etc. will be lessened.
Given the young country’s ambitious efforts, it’s surprising that the following exercise comes from Singapore. At least the government understands privilege still exists in their island nation. Go here to learn more about ethnicity and race in Singapore.
To learn about CLEFT HEART: Chasing Normal, click the Amazon or Barnes & Noble buttons in the margins. Or click the image of the book cover. My coming-of-age memoir has intertwining love stories, mystery, tragedy, and triumph.