We were pleasantly overwhelmed by the standing room only audience that participated so enthusiastically and honestly in our recent 14 July “Perils and Perks of Privilege" workshop at Pomegranate Café. It was for us an opportunity to move conversations about diversity and difference to a deeper level of personal and social examination.
We could not have anticipated that over 100 attendees from across the Valley would be so open and passionate about the multiple layers of privilege — age, race, thin, cisgender, Christian, male, heteronormativity, able-body, black male, and many others. Our objective was not to make anyone feel guilty about their positions of privilege nor to make anyone without certain privileges feel shamed and embarrassed.
The purpose of the activities, checklists, and group conversations was to demonstrate that everyone is both with and without privilege at the same time. It was also to demonstrate that having privilege is neither good nor bad. Privilege is. How each of us uses our privilege to combat systemic biases is the challenge for the workshop attendees.
Not only were we enlightened by the personal testimonial of Dr. Allison Parker of South Mountain Community College about the illusion of race in everyday terms, but it was a very special treat to sample some the exceptional edibles at Pomegranate and to support a local business. That Cassie, one of the co-owners, and her daughter personally served us pomegranate tea was particularly special.
Let’s keep the conversation going by posting your feedback on our Facebook page: humanities.asu.edu. We really can have civil dialogue that can build and sustain community. The next workshop will be at the Desert Botanical Garden with different activities, a different audience, and a different guest speaker
Neal A. Lester and Yvette Johnson, Workshop Facilitators