June 20, 2020

Day 6: Understanding & Utilizing Privilege

DAY 6 Of YWCA Spokane’s 14-Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge

We hope this challenge provides you with an opportunity to better understand concepts related to race, power, privilege, and leadership.

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5 | DAY 6 | DAY 7 | DAY 8 | DAY 9 | DAY 10 | DAY 11 | DAY 12 | DAY 13 | DAY 14

Thank you for taking this challenge! If this is your first day of joining us for the 14-day equity challenge, welcome. If you are returning after previous engagement with the challenge, nice work! We are glad you are here. From Monday, June 15th through Sunday, June 28th, YWCA Spokane will send, those who sign up for our challenge, daily emails prompting you to take time to learn about racial equity and social justice.

We encourage you to take note of any insights in a daily log or diary. Consider setting aside time to talk with friends about what you have learned and how the topics introduced impact our community. Invite your network to join you on this challenge and share on social media with #ywcaequitychallenge. Thank you for participating!

DAY 6: Understanding & Utilizing Privilege

Privilege refers to the rights, benefits, or advantages that we experience based on our social identities. Oftentimes, our privilege manifests through experiences in our daily lives that we are unaware of and may even take for granted.

Evidence of privilege is apparent when we examine the differences between social identity groups’ respective likelihood to achieve certain experiences, such as adequate health care, clean drinking water, proper nutrition, stable housing, and more.

We, as individuals, may be privileged in some ways and disadvantaged in others. Having a certain type of privilege does not mean that a person will not have struggles in their life, but rather that those struggles will likely not be because of that person’s race, gender, orientation, ability level, or other social identity status.

Some daily examples of privilege could include:

  • An able-bodied person can walk through a neighborhood regardless of what the sidewalks look like, but someone using a wheelchair or other mobility aid has to be mindful of and avoid sidewalks that are uneven, broken, or nonexistent.
  • A light-skinned person can probably go into a drugstore and find disposable bandages or makeup that at least relatively matches their skin tone, but a dark-skinned person often has to seek out specialty providers to find the same products for themselves.
  • A cisgender woman can usually use any public women’s restroom without fear of violence or retaliation, but a transgender woman often has to think twice or check that it is safe for her to use the same restrooms.
  • A heterosexual couple can typically hold hands or kiss in public, but a same-sex couple has to take into account whether it is safe for them to do so. 

Once we know what privilege looks like, what can we do? Those of us who have privileges in certain areas can make a difference by being mindful of these privileges, advocating for others when they do not have the same privileges that we do, and by leveraging our privilege when appropriate.

Leveraging our privilege can look like donating money to worthy causes if we can afford to do so, educating others, having courageous conversations with our families and peers, and using safe bystander interventions. 

If you have…

5 Minutes


10 Minutes


15 Minutes

and and
Read this guide 
from the American Friends Service Committee on the do’s and don’ts of bystander interventions.
and Review these examples 
of privilege provided by Boise State University to better understand various kinds of privilege.
and Watch this TED Talk
by Sue Borrego who shares her story of understanding and unpacking her own privilege.


Daily Reflection

Once you have completed today’s challenge, take a moment to reflect on any insights you experienced. How did the challenge make you feel? What is something you learned? Did you notice anything about yourself after taking the challenge? Consider sharing this new awareness with a friend or group to help deepen your understanding of the information. Consider tracking your reflections on the below daily log or start an online group with friends to encourage daily sharing with each other about the challenge topics.

Challenge Reflection Log

Share each challenge online with #YWCAEquityChallenge

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5 | DAY 6 | DAY 7 | DAY 8 | DAY 9 | DAY 10 | DAY 11 | DAY 12 | DAY 13 | DAY 14

Do you have resources you think we should share? Any insights you would like to share with us? We welcome you to share by leaving your comments here. Thank you!

By: Rachel Dannen

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