The Current Cat 
Housing and Dining Services' Monthly Diversity Update

Welcome: About Privilege 
Privilege. This controversial term is heard almost daily in everything from talk shows to opinion articles, but not many of our students have a firm grasp on what social privilege entails. Privilege is when "particular groups [benefit] and [prosper] because of the entitlements, advantages and dominance conferred upon them by society." (Black & Stone, 2005). What this means is that there are some people that, based on parts of their identity, are granted more advantages than others. This can be a hard process. It often incites a feeling of guilt within people, but the point of privilege isn't to make you feel ashamed of who you are and your experiences. It's simply a way to recognize how society has a different impact on various parts of a person's identity.

Hi! My name is Hannah Konrad. I am a first-year graduate student on the iTeam in Housing and Dining Services. On this team, I work to publish the monthly diversity newsletter. This month, the conversation is about "privilege." Because this can be a challenging concept, I thought I would start the conversation by sharing a little bit about my own privilege.
The most obvious privilege I have is that I am white. Being white is not something I chose, nor is it something I can control, yet it has granted me many advantages in life. For example, I have never been discriminated against because of my race, nor have I ever had people make unfair assumptions about me based on the color of my skin. I am fortunate in that I am able to pick up a movie or watch a TV series and see people that look just like me, just as I am fortunate that the constitution, as well as the most of history, has been hand-written by my race. Being white isn't something I can change, but it does, in fact, give me privilege.
While my race has given me privilege, another part of my identity that lacks in privilege is my gender; I identify as a female. While I do have advantages because of my race, I sometimes miss advantages based on my gender. One example of this is that in a group setting, my opinions and ideas have often been met with a round of overly critical questions and doubts before being ignored and pushed aside for the ideas of one of my male group mates simply because when he spoke, the group listened. I have also been in situations in which my emotions weren't attributed to the fact that I felt genuinely upset, but rather that because I was a woman, I therefore am irrationally emotional and not to be taken too seriously.
While I do lack privilege as a female, this part of my identity still has more privilege than someone who identifies as transgender or gender queer. This fact goes to show that many people, across all of their identities, may have a lot of privilege or very little, depending on certain social situations. Either way it's important for us to understand what our individual privilege looks like and how we can use that to advocate for those whose voices are still unheard.

(Black, L. L., & Stone, D. (2005). Expanding the Definition of Privilege: The Concept of Social Privilege. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and development,33, 243-255. Retrieved August 24, 2017, from

This comic, growing more and more popular every day, is a simple way in which life can look very different depending on what privileges you have been exposed to as a young child through adulthood. This was one of the first pieces of media I saw about privilege and is a unique way to show what life is for some and what life isn't for others.
This article in the New York Times discusses how the word "privilege" has evolved to this jumping-off point for people to get defensive and dismissive. It talks about how people have reacted to the word as it has grown in popularity and how powerful it has become.
The Power of Privilege: Tiffany Jana
This is a great video if you are wanting a little more about what privilege looks like and how it relates to diversity and inclusion issues. Tiffany Jana talks about her own personal story and how she has had to deal with privilege in the past. Jana is an incredible public speaker and this Ted Talk from 2014 does a phenomenal job including historical figures in our discussion about what privilege has been and what it is now.
Current Cat Take-Aways
Here is an easy activity you can do with students to explain what privilege looks like along with follow-up questions to get them thinking about their own privilege!
Activity: Privilege Paper Toss (20 minutes)
Step 1: Have everyone in your group sit facing you. The more they are in a clump, the better. You want to avoid having them face each other in a semi-circle or U shape.
Step 2: Once they are in the clump, give everyone a half sheet of paper and place a trash can near where you are standing so you have some people who are close to the trash can and some who are far from the trash can.
Step 3: Tell the students that they may not move from where they are, but that they are to crumple up the sheet of paper into a ball and try to make it in the basket. Count down from three and have them give it their best shot
Result: What will happen is that you will have a lot of students who will be unable to make it in the basket because they are so far back, while other need to simply stretch out to drop it in the trash can.
Discussion Questions
1. What was easy about this activity? What was difficult about this activity?
2. How did it feel to be one of the people near the trash can? How did it feel to be one of the people in the back?
3. What are ways that you as the group of students near the front could have made this easier for the students in the back?
(Read the group the definition of what "privilege" is.)
4. How does this activity relate to privilege?
5. What is a way we can be more aware of privilege in our community?

Consider This...
Privilege has the power to break the walls between social barriers. These barriers are usually built by prejudice and oppression. Oppression, also known as the forced labels or experiences that cause damage to a person or people's physical or physiological well-being, can be and historically has been one of the biggest race relation issues (Black & Stone). Historically, Native Americans and African Americans are two groups of people who have felt this by the U.S. public. Today, many racial groups, along with various identity based groups, have also felt this oppression.
What do you think are some ways that you have witnessed oppression in the United States? What about worldwide?
How does your privilege impact your exposure to being oppressed or to oppressed people?

Watch: You're Oppressed, But You Don't Know It Yet
by Masarat Daud 
This Ted Talk, created in 2013, features Masarat Daud, a woman born in India who follows the Muslim faith. She talks about the assumptions of others because of how she dresses and how people treated her differently post-9/11.

Interested in Contributing?   

Contact Hannah Konrad at or 785-532-3247.

What:  Intersectionality: Working with Survivors (Safe Zone Training)
When: Sept. 7, 12-1 p.m.
Where: Leadership Studies, Room 126

What: Sexuality and Gender Alliance (first meeting)
When: Sept. 7,
6:30-8 p.m.
Where: Union 206

What: Just Another Maniac Monday
When: Sept. 11,
10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Where: Holton Hall 207

What:  Movies on the Grass: "Don't Tell Anyone (No Le Digas a Nadie)"
When: Sept. 17, 8 p.m.
Where: Coffman Commons

What:  Understanding Christopher's Math Problems
When: Sept. 28, 7-8 p.m.
Where: Hale Library, Hemisphere Room 

What:  Ubiquitous: Enrico Isama Ōyama
When: Continuous
throughout semester 
Where: Beach Art Museum

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532-2711 if photographs do not appear with this newsletter.

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Manhattan, KS 66506